The earliest domesticated dogs in the Midcontinent: Chronology, Morphology, and Paleopathology

Author(s): Dennis Lawler; Chris Widga

Year: 2015


The Midwest has the earliest and possibly richest record of dog burials in North America. New direct AMS 14C dates on Archaic-period canids from the region confirms this pattern (Koster Horizon XI, 10,130-9680 cal BP; Stilwell II, 10,200-9630 cal BP; Rodgers Shelter, 9000-8600 cal BP; Rodgers Shelter 8560-8210 cal BP). We use 2D and 3D geometric morphometrics to assess variability in the morphology of wild and domesticated Canidae from midwestern Archaic assemblages (10,000-6000 cal BP). Health and life history characteristics of these animals are also described on the basis of gross pathology, radiographs, and computed-tomography. Preliminary results indicate a strong geographic trend in the characteristics of archaeological dogs. A wide-variety of dog morphologies are found in the eastern Great Plains associated with bison hunting sites. These include large, wolf-sized dogs (>60 lbs), medium-sized terrier-like dogs (40-60 lbs) and possible wild/domestic hybrids. Healed trauma is more common in these populations. Dogs from the central part of the Midwest, on the other hand, show a limited size range (40-60 lbs) and lower rates of trauma. We will explore how these emerging trends fit into the evolving picture of dog domestication in the eastern US.

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Cite this Record

The earliest domesticated dogs in the Midcontinent: Chronology, Morphology, and Paleopathology. Chris Widga, Dennis Lawler. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395593)


Geographic Keywords
North America - Midwest

Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;