Three-Dimensional Geometric Morphometric Analysis of Fossil Canid Mandibles and Skulls

Abby Grace Drake, Michael Coquerelle, Pavel A. Kosintsev, Olga P. Bachura, Mikhail Sablin, Andrei V. Gusev, Lacey S. Fleming, Robert J. Losey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Much of the fossil record for dogs consists of mandibles. However, can fossil canid mandibles be reliably identified as dogs or wolves? 3D geometric morphometric analysis correctly classifies 99.5% of the modern dog and wolf mandibles. However, only 4 of 26 Ust’-Polui fossil mandibles, a Russian Arctic site occupied from 250BCE to 150CE, were identified as dogs and none of the 20 Ivolgin mandibles, an Iron Age site in southern Russia, were identified as dogs. Three of the Ust’-Polui mandibles and 8 of the Ivolgin mandibles were identified as wolves. In contrast, all 12 Ivolgin skulls and 5 Ust’-Polui skulls were clearly identified as dogs. Only the classification of the UP6571 skull as a dog (Dog Posterior Probability = 1.0) was not supported by the typical probability. Other evidence indicates these canids were domesticated: they were located within human dwellings, remains at both sites have butchery marks indicating that they were consumed, and isotope analysis of canid and human remains from Ust’-Polui demonstrate that both were consuming freshwater protein; indicating that the humans were feeding the canids. Our results demonstrate that the mandible may not evolve as rapidly as the cranium and the mandible is not reliable for identifying early dog fossils.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9508
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2017

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    Drake, A. G., Coquerelle, M., Kosintsev, P. A., Bachura, O. P., Sablin, M., Gusev, A. V., Fleming, L. S., & Losey, R. J. (2017). Three-Dimensional Geometric Morphometric Analysis of Fossil Canid Mandibles and Skulls. Scientific Reports, 7, 1-8. [9508]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-10232-1