General, Research, Technology

What animals did dogs hunt 1000 years ago?

In 2011, on the territory of the Siberian village of Tumat,the remains of a puppy were found that died during the Ice Age about 14,000 years ago. Thanks to the cold conditions of Siberia, the body of the animal is perfectly preserved. Not only bones, skin and hair remained intact, but also internal organs and even food that did not have time to digest in his stomach. According to scientists, the dog was between 3 and 9 months old at the time of death. Unfortunately, they do not know why he died, and it is unlikely that this question will ever be answered. But the researchers are quite clear that before dying, the puppy had a good meal of some animal meat. Leftover food was found in the dog's stomach, along with yellow fur, which also belonged to the eaten animal. But how did the dog get the fatty piece of meat? Was antiquity so severe that even puppies were skilled hunters?

Fragment of the body of an ancient dog

The remains of a puppy in Siberia

About the unexpected find of Swedish scientists toldpublication Science Alert, with reference to the scientific journal Current Biology. The mummified remains of the dog were opened, as a result of which a piece of meat with fragments of yellow wool was found inside its stomach. It became quite clear that before his death the puppy had had time to eat well, but from what animal meat? The answer to this question was rather difficult to find, because at that time there were many fleshy animals with the same coat color. Scientists initially suggested that the puppy was able to eat a piece of the body of a cave lion (Panthera leo spelaea), which is considered one of the largest representatives of the cat family in the history of our planet. Their body length was over 2.1 meters.

The cave lion as seen by the artist

To test the correctness of your assumption,scientists have compared DNA samples taken from meat with a dataset from found remains of ancient lions. No match was found, but genetic data matched when compared with woolly rhinos (Coelodonta antiquitatis). Now scientists are sure that before his death, the puppy ate the meat of an ancient rhinoceros with a 4.5-meter body and long hair. One of the well-preserved bodies of this creature was discovered during research in 2007. The found individual weighed 1.5 tons during life, that is, the ancient rhinos were as large as modern species.

And this is what woolly rhinos looked like

Extinction of rhinos

The dog died 14,000 years ago and at the same time withthe faces of our planet began to disappear woolly rhinos. It turns out that the Siberian puppy ate one of the last individuals of large Ice Age creatures. Only it is hard to believe that the huge rhinos have become extinct due to the attacks of dogs and other predators. Perhaps their population declined due to hunting by humans, but our ancestors could not exterminate the whole species. Most likely, woolly animals became extinct due to climatic changes - after the Ice Age, the air temperature began to rise. And woolly rhinos are used to cold climates and have not been able to adapt to sudden warming.

See also: What is the Ice Age and when will it start

And the fact that the puppy could fill up the wholerhinoceros, too, is completely hard to believe. Most likely, the large animal was killed by a pack of dogs, which then shared the prey with the puppy. It may also be that the discovered dog has already been tamed by people and was fed by the owners. In general, none of this matters. Most importantly, the researchers were able to find the surviving piece of food inside the mummified animal. In addition, the study conducted is noteworthy in that the dog, in fact, ate part of a representative of an almost completely extinct animal species. And in general, ancient dogs ate any meat - they were predators and modern species remain with them.

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The climate of Siberia is good because it allowsanimal remains are well preserved even for thousands of years. In 2019, I talked about how a severed wolf head was found on the territory of the Republic of Yakutia, which was about 40,000 years old. The find turned out to be one of a kind, because the ancient wolf has perfectly preserved soft tissues and even the brain. You can read more about this discovery, which I refer to in many articles, in this article.