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Dogs helped drive mammoths to extinction


Posted on Monday, 2 June, 2014 | Comment icon 15 comments

Did dogs help human hunters take down mammoths ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Flying Puffin
Early humans may have relied on domesticated dogs to help them hunt down and kill woolly mammoths.
Our ancestors have long been blamed for the disappearance of the mammoth and while this is likely to be true, new research has suggested that they may not have done it alone.

While investigating how early humans managed to bring down so many mammoths with only the primitive weapons of the time, anthropologist Pat Shipman came upon the idea that domesticated dogs may have provided a crucial supporting role in mammoth hunting practices.

"Dogs help hunters find prey faster and more often, and dogs also can surround a large animal and hold it in place by growling and charging while hunters move in," she said. "Both of these effects would increase hunting success."

Only last year a new study determined that dogs were domesticated between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago in Europe, adding support to the idea that they could have helped our ancestors hunt down mammoths.

"If hunters working with dogs catch more prey, have a higher intake of protein and fat, and have a lower expenditure of energy, their reproductive rate is likely to rise," said Shipman.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine | Comments (15)

Tags: Dog, Mammoth

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by shaddow134 on 2 June, 2014, 18:17
Heard so many theories stating what wiped out the Mammoths,a bit like picking straws or is that clutching?
Comment icon #7 Posted by SaraT on 2 June, 2014, 19:32
Well the dog belonging to our former neighbours nearly drove us to extinction with his unceasing barking, so that might be a good theory.
Comment icon #8 Posted by :PsYKoTiC:BeHAvIoR: on 3 June, 2014, 12:06
The dogs must have been ecstatic with the size of bones they could chew on.
Comment icon #9 Posted by lightly on 4 June, 2014, 0:27
^ yup. i think maybe wolves started hanging around scavenging the leftovers .. which probably put them on the menu as well? Eventually, they got used to each other , and learned to be mutually beneficial?
Comment icon #10 Posted by Realm on 4 June, 2014, 5:13
Pretty sure they weren't roadkill. Dogs are a good theory.
Comment icon #11 Posted by posner on 5 June, 2014, 19:57
Its common knowledge what killed mammoths dinosaurs ect answer a catastrofic meteor strike on the earth plain and simple no mystery bout itt
Comment icon #12 Posted by Junior Chubb on 5 June, 2014, 20:05
Its common knowledge what killed mammoths dinosaurs ect answer a catastrofic meteor strike on the earth plain and simple no mystery bout itt Interesting first post... There is over 64 Million years between the extinction of Dinosaurs and Woolly Mammoths but hey, welcome to UM Posner Edit: Woolly added
Comment icon #13 Posted by ROGER on 5 June, 2014, 20:05
Its common knowledge what killed mammoths dinosaurs ect answer a catastrophic meteor strike on the earth plain and simple no mystery bout itt Dino's and Mammoth's are separated by Millions of year . So I would have to disagree .
Comment icon #14 Posted by bubblykiss on 6 June, 2014, 5:24
This is why I am a cat person. When was the last time you read about cats helping with anything? Much less an extinction?
Comment icon #15 Posted by Junior Chubb on 17 June, 2014, 23:49
This is why I am a cat person. When was the last time you read about cats helping with anything? Much less an extinction? Maybe, but my childhood recollection on Mammoth illustrations usually have Sabre Tooth Cats attacking them, according to these artist illustrations Mammoths always had a Cat on their back sinking their claws and sabres into them. Shocking stuff considering how well they get along in Ice Age.


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