Here’s What Ancient Dogs Looked Like: A Forensic Reconstruction of a Dog That Lived 4,500 Years Ago

Images by His­toric Envi­ron­ment Scot­land

We’re pret­ty sure dogs aren’t obsessed with ances­try, despite the pro­lif­er­a­tion of canine DNA test­ing ser­vices.

That seems to be more of a human thing.

How­ev­er, with very lit­tle dig­ging, near­ly every dog on earth could claim to be descend­ed from a hand­some spec­i­men such as the one above.

This news must be grat­i­fy­ing to all those lap­dogs who fan­cy them­selves to be some­thing more wolfish than their exte­ri­ors sug­gest.

This beast is no 21st-cen­tu­ry pet, but rather, a recon­struc­tion, foren­sic science’s best guess as to what the own­er of a Neolith­ic skull dis­cov­ered dur­ing a 1901 exca­va­tion of the 5,000-year-old Cuween Hill cham­bered cairn on Orkney, Scot­land would have looked like in life.

About the size of a large col­lie, the “Cuween dog” has the face of a Euro­pean grey wolf and the rea­son­able gaze of a fam­i­ly pet.

(Kudos to the project’s orga­niz­ers for resist­ing the urge to bestow a nick­name on their cre­ation, or if they have, to resist shar­ing it pub­licly.)

Whether or not this good boy or girl had a name, it would’ve earned its keep, guard­ing a farm in the tomb’s vicin­i­ty.

Steve Far­rar, Inter­pre­ta­tion Man­ag­er at His­toric Envi­ron­ment Scot­land, the con­ser­va­tion orga­ni­za­tion that com­mis­sioned the recon­struc­tion, believes that the farm­ers’ esteem for their dogs went beyond mere util­i­tar­i­an appre­ci­a­tion:

Maybe dogs were their sym­bol or totem, per­haps they thought of them­selves as the ‘dog peo­ple’.

Radio­car­bon dat­ing of this dog’s skull and 23 oth­ers found on the site point to rit­u­al burial—the ani­mals were placed with­in more than 500 years after the pas­sage to the tomb was built. His­toric Envi­ron­ment Scot­land posits that the canine remains’ place­ment next to those of humans attest to the community’s belief in an after­life for both species.

The mod­el is pre­sum­ably more relat­able than the naked skull, which was scanned by Edin­burgh Uni­ver­si­ty’s Roy­al (Dick) School of Vet­eri­nary Stud­ies, enabling His­toric Envi­ron­ment Scot­land to make the 3D print that foren­sic artist Amy Thorn­ton fleshed out with mus­cle, skin, and hair.

What a human geneal­o­gist wouldn’t give to trace their lin­eage back to 2000 BC, let alone have such a fetch­ing pic­ture.

via Live Sci­ence

Relat­ed Con­tent:

40,000-Year-Old Sym­bols Found in Caves World­wide May Be the Ear­li­est Writ­ten Lan­guage

An Ani­mat­ed His­to­ry of Dogs, Inspired by Kei­th Har­ing

An Ani­mat­ed His­to­ry of Cats: How Over 10,000 Years the Cat Went from Wild Preda­tor to Sofa Side­kick

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in New York City this May for the next install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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