Thursday, November 23, 2017
A new study of prehistoric rock art reveals how hunters in the Arabian Peninsula pursued prey with dogs over 8,000 years ago -- and even controlled their packs with leashes. The engravings represent the earliest evidence for dogs on the Arabian Peninsula and might even stand as the earliest depictions of canines yet, as Science first reported. Found at two sites a few years ago -- at a wadi at Shuwaymis and at the desert oasis of Jubbah -- the stylized canines predate previous evidence for dogs in the region by over 2,000 years. As for the carved leashes, those simple lines are the earliest known evidence of leads in prehistory.
The restraints appear on only a number of dogs and tether them to the hunters's waists, allowing their owners to wield bows and arrows. As the researchers explain, leashed dogs might have served to protect not only their human companion but also valuable dogs trained to track the scent of prey. But they might also represent younger dogs who are less experienced or even older dogs who are more easily injured.
"This suggests not only are some human populations controlling their hunting dogs by the Pre-Neolithic, but that some dogs may perform different hunting tasks than others," the researchers write. "Some may be used only to track prey scents, while others are used to corral and attack prey, protect human hunters, or help haul meat back to camp."
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