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Cave Women Were Just Like Us: They May Have Domesticated Prehistoric Dogs

It turns out that dogs may have more history as "woman's best friend" than as "man's best friend."

A new study has revealed archaeological evidence indicating that prehistoric women from the early Neolithic period may have lived very canine-centric lives.
Andrea Waters-Rist, an author of the study and an archaeologist at Leiden University said that it is not unlikely that the females in a living group were actually in more direct day-to-day contact with the dogs than the males. "It is possible that females were more involved in caring for the dogs -- possibly more often the ones who fed them, organized living quarters for them, and cleaned up after them."
The archaeological team excavated and examined the remains of two 8,000-year-old cemeteries located near Lake Baikal in Siberia. The evidence collected led the researchers to determine that the women in both burial grounds had contracted a parasitic infection called echinococcosis.
Echinococcosis typically only occurs in humans when they have had direct contact with canines.

Flickr: Fer Figheras

Says Waters-Rist, "(Echinococcosis has) been recognized for centuries -- mentioned in ancient Greco-Roman and Jewish texts -- and in modern times it is a relatively common infection in Northern Eurasian reindeer herders who use dogs to help with herding, and in indigenous Alaskan groups reliant on sled dogs."
These findings offer up the fascinating probability that pre-historic individuals had a kind of animal culture very similar to our own.
"One can envision a camp in the boreal forest with people and dogs living side by side, and dogs being used in many everyday tasks, with dogs being as important to the group as they are to many people today," added Waters-Rist.