People ate mammoth, dogs got reindeer

Date:

Share post:

Biogeologists have shown how Gravettian people shared their food 30,000 years ago. Predmosti I is an exceptional prehistoric site located near Brno in the Czech Republic.

People ate mammoth, dogs got reindeer
Reconstruction of domesticated wolf at Predmosti I 
[Credit: Czech Television]

Around 30,000 years ago it was inhabited by people of the pan-European Gravettian culture, who used the bones of more than 1000 mammoths to build their settlement and to ivory sculptures.

Did prehistoric people collect this precious raw material from carcasses — easy to spot on the big cold steppe — or were they the direct result of hunting for food?

This year-round settlement also yielded a large number of canids remains, some of them with characteristics of Palaeolithic dogs. Were these animals used to help hunt mammoths?

To answer these two questions, Tubingen researcher Herve Bocherens and his international team carried out an analysis of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in human and animal fossil bones from the site.

People ate mammoth, dogs got reindeer
Simplified
prey-predator relationships for prehistoric humans and large mammals in 

 Předmostí I 30,000 years ago, deduced from stable isotopic data.
Illustration: 

Hervé Bocherens with credits to: Wooly mammoth, wooly
rhino, horse & cave lion 

[Credit: Mauricio
Antón/DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060099]

Working with researchers from Brno and Brussels, the researchers were able to test whether the Gravettian people of Predmosti ate mammoth meat and how the “palaeolithic dogs” fit into this subsistence picture.

They found that humans did consume mammoth — and in large quantities.

Other carnivores, such as brown bears, wolves and wolverines, also had access to mammoth meat, indicating the high availability of fresh mammoth carcasses, most likely left behind by human hunters.

Surprisingly, the dogs did not show a high level of mammoth consumption, but rather consumed essentially reindeer meat that was not the staple food of their owners.

People ate mammoth, dogs got reindeer
Skull of a Palaeolithic dog from Předmostí I 
[Credit: Moravian Museum, Brno]

A similar situation is observed in traditional populations from northern regions, who often feed their dogs with the food that they do not like.

These results also suggest that these early dogs were restrained, and were probably used as transportation helpers.

These new results, published by the Quaternary International journal, provide clear evidence that mammoth was a key component of prehistoric life in Europe 30,000 years ago, and that dogs were already there to help.

Source: Universitaet Tubingen [November 24, 2014]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

Large Roman pottery production centre unearthed in southern Spain

The archaeological remains discovered last year during excavations for the construction of a car park on the grounds...

Marble torso found in Roman Forum dig

A large white marble torso has been found by archaeologists of the Capitoline Superintendence for Cultural Heritage engaged...

Altar of Minerva found in southern Italian town of Castro

A team of archaeologists led by Francesco D' Andria has discovered the altar of the temple of Minerva...

New research links early Europeans’ cultural and genetic development over several thousand years

A new DNA study has nuanced the picture of how different groups intermingled during the European Stone Age,...

300,000-year-old nearly complete elephant skeleton unearthed at Schoningen site in Lower Saxony

Elephants ranged over Schoningen in Lower Saxony 300,000 years ago. In recent years, remains of at least ten...

Earliest domestic structures excavated on Zanzibar

Excavations during June 2017 have for the first time uncovered a domestic structure at the important site of...

Ancient Armenian king’s tombstone retrieved by Turkish authorities

Anti-smuggling police seized a 2,000-year-old tombstone belonging to an ancient Armenian king in Turkey's northwestern Balıkesir province on...

Bronze Age “Tomb of the Prince” unearthed in Iraq

A team of Italian archaeologists have found a third millennium BC tomb in southern Iraq, which was the...