Posted by: Brian | January 10, 2010

Canis familiaris at Aniakchak?

Adam comparing the Aniakchak tooth to a wolf upper molar

Did the Aniakchak villagers have dogs? We may have found our first evidence of dog (or wolf) from the site. It’s an upper molar (probably a M2) and looks somewhat similar to wolf. It’s more heavily worn compared to the wolf specimens we looked at, which might explain why our tooth doesn’t definitely match wolf. Another possibility is that the tooth belonged to a dog. Canis familiaris remains are occasionally found in southern Alaska precontact sites including the eastern Aleutians (Holland 2004) and Kodiak Archipelago (Clark ???). So the presence of dogs at Aniakchak would not be unexpected.  We just need to confirm that our molar is from a dog by comparing it with some known specimens (the U of MN mammal collections where we were working on Friday surprisingly do not include any dog skeletal remains). I just called my dog over so I could look at her upper M2 – she wasn’t very cooperative despite my offer of treats. I guess a positive ID will have to wait until we get a look at some dog skulls. For now we’re at least sure that the molar is not from a human, harbor seal, sea lion, brown bear, sea otter, river otter, fox or wolverine. It looks kind of like wolf, but I’m hoping its dog.


  1. I did an image search this weekend to see if I could find any good photos of canid molars, and turned up these links:

    Based on those images (especially the third), I wouldn’t discount it being an M1 of a smaller-than-wolf canid species (like maybe a domesticated dog…).

  2. Nice job. That third photo has the right outline shape – which the wolf molars did not.

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