Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hot Links

A recent drought has exposed the remains of a Byzantine port city located just west of Istanbul. Turkish archaeologists report artifacts dating most commonly from the Fourth to the Sixth Centuries, including these bricks stamped with the name "CONSTANS" (see picture) that resemble some used in the construction of the Hagia Sophia. The archaeologists are calling the site Bathonea, but admit they don't know if that is its real name. I must confess I am somewhat surprised that there isn't documentary evidence of a city of this size only 13 miles from Constantinople.

Read all about the UFO and Bigfoot sightings near Mt. Shasta.

Please feel free to opine (everyone else has) about food personality Paula Deen's disclosure that she has diabetes. I don't remember such a big media storm when Anthony Bourdain told everyone he was taking Lipitor.

The NY Times has a short piece telling those of you who have never heard of them all about the La Brea Tar Pits. I know I am prejudiced by my background, but I sort of assume everyone has heard of them.

Here is an interesting article about very old (33,000 BP) finds of crania of domesticated dogs from Siberia and Belgium. Steve and I had some discussion last fall about these finds, as I had seen them cited in a paper I saw presented at the Plains Conference in October. That paper, by Jeffrey Saunders of the Illinois State Museum, presented information on remains of domesticated dire wolves (Canis dirus) from two Clovis (ca 13,000 BP) mammoth kills in Arizona. Saunders (and other researchers) are now referring to these finds as "incipient dogs." It appears that our ancestors domesticated wolves and wolf-like animals several times in the past, but these "incipient dogs" may have no genetic connection with modern dogs. This is a fascinating line of research that I'm sure Steve will have lots to say about. Also interesting, a somewhat younger (26,000 BP) "incipient dog" find from the Czech Republic (also cited by Saunders) shows evidence that it was buried by its owners with a bone in its mouth.


Retrieverman said...

Not a single one of these studies convinced me they were "incipient."

I'd like to know what Steve thinks about these early attempts at dog doemstication.

Razib Khan has a really good analysis that might be of interest:

It's likely that the dog evolved out of a long association between ancient Canis lupus populations across Eurasia and possibly North Africa. The so-called Egyptian jackal has recently been declared a subspecies of wolf, and it has been found to range as far south as Ethiopia. (Not to be confused with the Ethiopian wolf, which is more distantly related to wolves and dogs than golden jackals are.)

Chas Clifton said...

Aw, c'mon on, everyone knows about the La Brea Tar Pits and the Mount Shasta UFOS and mystery critters -- don't they?

On my shelf is an amateur-made occult horror film made partly on location in lava tubes near Shasta.

Anonymous said...

Although I never perpetrated any Bigfoot sightings around Mount Shasta(yet....), I just want everyone out there to be VERY skeptical about Bigfoot sightings all over N. C. and North Georgia, circa mid-to-late 70's and early 80's(and the only reason I dare mention this now on a worldwide publicly accessible forum, is because the statute-of-limitations should be well past on such hoaxing--I hope....)--but I never realized(until this enlightening article), that when I took off the gorilla suit(all those years ago), that I was actually entering a 5th dimension! So I must still be there NOW!....L.B.

Anonymous said...

....And on the super early doggy domestication(I promise not to rag on Coppinger here--oops, I just kinda did!)--I've always wondered just how the DIRE WOLVES fit into all this canine evolution? Could some of their DNA be in modern wolves, and therefore in our dogs, too? Since wolves and coyotes are closely enough related still to produce viable offspring when they mate(yea, the possible source of the "Red Wolves"), were Dire wolves closely enough related to occaisionally add their genes to the North American canine gene pool? Has anyone even tried to test for this? I mean, if you have testable DNA from mammoths, mastodons, and giant sloths, etc. that were contemporaries of Dire Wolves, is not some hair/bone or other remains around that could be tested? I've yet to encounter any studies on this.....L.B.

Retrieverman said...


I always knew you had these questions, so I raised them on my post on this discovery:


Retrieverman said...

I can't find any studies that have been interesting in dire wolf DNA.

They died out after Neanderthals did, yet the Neanderthal genome has been sequenced.

I would love to know where dire wolves fit in dog and wolf phylogeny and if they contributed any genes to modern dogs and wolves.

I would love to know if we should consider the dire wolf a distinct species, or just an early specialized wolf from the Canis lupus species. The primitive wolves in that species, which likely came from Canis mosbachensis were all smaller, coyote-sized animals, but some grew quite large. Maybe the dire wolf and its putative ancestor, Armbruster's wolf, were early robust offshoots of that mosbachensis/lupus lineage.

Reid Farmer said...

R-man: I just emailed you a copy of Saunders' presentation. There are a number of references he cites that might help answer some of your questions.