Is this Europe's first hunting dog? Jawbone of a huge canine dating back 1.8 million years is discovered alongside human remains in Georgia.
The jawbone of a huge canine from 1.8 million years ago has been found alongside human remains in Georgia — and may be Europe's first hunting dog, a study claimed.
Experts led from the University of Florence analyzed remains freshly collected from the Dmanisi archaeological site, which previously yielded several hominine skulls.
They concluded that the remains belong to the species Canis (Xenocyon) lycaonoides — the 'Eurasian hunting dog' — which originated in East Asia, The Daily Mail reported.
The Dmanisi dog, the team said, could be the ancestor of African hunting dogs — and likely lived alongside early humans in Georgia before dispersing more widely. The study of the large dog's remains was undertaken by vertebrate paleontologist Saverio Bartolini-Lucenti of the University of Florence, Italy, and his colleagues. According to their analysis, the bones date back to between 1.77–1.76 million years ago — making it the earliest known case of a hunting dog in Europe.
According to the researchers, it actually predates the widespread movement of hunting dogs from their origin in Asia west into Europe and Africa during the middle of the Pleistocene Epoch. Based on the lack of wear on the Dmanisi dog's teeth, the researchers have concluded that it was a young adult, if large, weighing in at around 30kg (66 lbs).
Analysis of the dog's dental features also showed similarities with other wild dog-like species — 'canids' — from the same time period. They have narrower and shorter third premolars than omnivores and an enlarged and sharp tooth in the middle of the jaw which would have served to help shred food.
These features have allowed experts to identify these canids as being highly carnivorous, eating a diet that was at least 70 percent meat.