A new look at an old friend: A geometric morphometric approach to examining morphological diversity and investigating human-canid relationships in New World prehistory



Ameen, CE
(2018) A new look at an old friend: A geometric morphometric approach to examining morphological diversity and investigating human-canid relationships in New World prehistory. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Abstract

Identifying domesticates in the archaeological record is one of the major goals of zooarchaeology, and as the first known domesticate, significant attention has been given to investigating dogs in archaeological research. Less attention has been paid to the morphological variation exhibited by prehistoric dogs after their do- mestication. Since the New World lacks the large scale husbandry of economically important livestock animals, dogs are arguably the most significant domesticate in American prehistory, and are the only domesticate shared by almost all cultures. Advances in geometric morphometric (GMM) techniques have improved our abil- ity to investigate the subtle biological variations between wild and domestic ani- mals. This thesis uses advanced GMM techniques to identify domesticates from prehistoric archaeological assemblages. These methods are then used to examine the morphological variability of dogs in New World prehistory. This post-domestic variation might inform on the diverse and fluid cultural relationships between hu- mans and the domestic dog. The results of this thesis are presented as a series of case studies which first offer a comprehensive investigation of the underlying morphological variability of the dogs’ wild ancestor, the grey wolf. Then, specimens from over 80 prehistoric archaeological sites across the New World are first identified as either wild or domestic, and then examined for temporal, geographic and cultural trends on both continents. Results indicate that prehistoric dogs exhibit significant shape and size differences in association with temporal and geographic contexts, which are correlated with changes in dog husbandry practices through- out prehistory. Morphological data combined with other complimentary scientific approaches (namely stable isotope and DNA analysis), show significant implications for understanding the human past using dogs as a proxy for human movements and migrations. A synthesis of these interrelated case studies provides a framework for future investigations into the individual life-ways and life-histories of prehistoric dogs as well as methods for interpreting their position in human society using a suite of interrelated analytical techniques.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: cameen7@gmail.com
Divisions: Fac of Humanities & Social Sci > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2018 09:15
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2021 10:36
DOI: 10.17638/03020363
Supervisors:
  • Dobney, Keith
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3020363