Experts have found 7000-year-old remains of a Husky-like dog in Siberia that suggest that people saw it as a thinking, social being.
They believe it probably lived and died similar to how humans did at that time and place, eating the same food, sustaining work injuries, and getting a human-like burial.
“Based on how northern indigenous people understand animals in historic times, I think the people burying this particular dog saw it as a thinking, social being, perhaps on par with humans in many ways,” Discovery News quoted Robert Losey from the University of Alberta, as saying.
“I think the act of treating it as a human upon its death indicates that people knew it had a soul, and that the mortuary rites it received were meant to ensure that this soul was properly cared for,” added Mr. Losey.
“Just like the humans in the cemetery, the dog was buried with other items, (such as) a long spoon made of antler,” he said.
The DNA analysis showed that the animal ate exactly what humans at the site consumed: fish, freshwater seal meat, deer, small mammals, and some plant foods.
However, the find indicates that it was used to carry and transport loads too.
“The dog's skeleton, particularly its vertebrate spines, suggests that it was repeatedly used to transport loads,” Mr. Losey explained.
“This could have included carrying gear on its back that was used in daily activities like hunting, fishing, and gathering plant foods and firewood. The dog also could have been used to transport gear for the purposes of relocating settlements on a seasonal basis.”
Susan Crockford, adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Victoria, doesn't believe the any particular interpretation of the burials.
“There can be many reasons for the ritual treatment of dogs, including ones we might never imagine,” she said.
The study appears in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.