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Did domesticated dogs give humans an advantage over Neanderthals?

Anthropologist Pat Shipman believes that domesticated dogs may have given humans an advantage over Neanderthals.

Shipman analyzed the results of excavations of fossilized canid bones — from Europe, during the time when humans and Neanderthals overlapped. Put together, they furnish some compelling evidence that early humans, first of all, engaged in ritualistic dog worship. Canid skeletons found at a 27,000-year-old site in P?edmostí, of the Czech Republic, displayed the poses of early ritual burial. Drill marks in canid teeth found at the same site suggest that early humans used those teeth as jewelry — and Paleolithic people, Shipman notes, rarely made adornments out of animals they simply used for food. There’s also the more outlying fact that, like humans, dogs are rarely depicted in cave art — a suggestion that cave painters might have regarded dogs not as the game animals they tended to depict, but as fellow-travelers.

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Story: Megan Garber, The Atlantic | Photo: Shutterstock/Pedro Jorge Henriques Monteiro

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