Research Shows Prehistoric Man Loved His Dogs As Much As We Do

Research based on the remains of a dog found in a grave dating back 14,000 years lends experts to believe that prehistoric humans had emotional bonds with domesticated canines.


Veterinarian and Leiden University Ph.D candidate Luc Janssens has learned that a dog found in a grave that dates back 14,000 most likely had been sick for a lengthy amount of time, and had been cared for, showing there was a prehistoric human investment in the dog’s life. He’s published their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science.


Related: Ancient Engravings Show Early Dogs Were Leashed Companions


The grave had the remains of a man, a woman and two dogs, and was discovered in 1914 in Bonn, Germany. Current research determined that the remains were from the Paleolithic time period, dating them back about 14,000 years. So far, this is the oldest known grave that has had dogs and humans buried together and one of the earliest pieces of evidence that gives timeframe to the domestication of dogs. Based on the new findings, it seems that dogs were very much cared for, even then.


Related: Ancient Dogs Provide Clues About North America’s Early Inhabitants


Janssens looked at the teeth of the younger dog in the grave, and he figured it had been six- or seven-months-old when it died. He also concluded that the dog had most likely been suffering from canine distemper or an infection of the morbilli virus, though it can’t be definitively diagnosed as the virus’s genetic material is no longer. The damage to the dog’s teeth that is characteristic of the virus appeared to happen around 3- to 4-months old and there may have been two or three additional periods where the dog was seriously ill.


Janssens said that unless a dog has adequate care, a serious case of distemper can result in death in fewer than three weeks. Surprisingly, this dog lived approximately eight weeks longer, which signifies it had been cared for, including cleaning it, feeding and watering it even though it offered no work or productivity in return. When you add in that the dog was buried with people, it is safe to assume that there was a special relationship between humans and dogs even 14,000 years ago.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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