From Head to Hind: Elucidating Function through Contrasting Morphometrics of Ancient and Modern Pedigree Dogs

Jeffrey Schoenebeck, Sheila Hamilton-Dyer, Ian L. Baxter , Tobias Schwarz, Marc Nussbaumer

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review

Abstract

Used together, caliper- and geometric-based morphometric analyses provide complimentary approaches to classifying form and function of archaeozoological remains. Here we apply these analytical tools to the skeletal remains of an ancient male dog unearthed from a rural farm settlement of Roman date near present day Warmington, UK. Our comparisons of the Warmington Roman dog against the morphological characteristics of modern dog breeds enabled us to establish the former’s size and shape. It was of medium stature. Analysis of viscerocrania and neurocrania indicate it falls within the meso- to dolichocephalic rankings of modern dogs. The neurocranium shape and the dimensions of its long bones strongly suggest that the Warmington dog shares similarities to modern sight hounds. Historically sight hounds were bred for speed, as necessitated of a hunter that runs down small prey. Our analysis suggests that the Warmington dog was likely bred for, or derived from, Roman hunting stock. By revealing the Warmington Roman dog’s form from cranial and postcranial analyses, we shed light on Roman life in one of the furthest outposts of the Roman Empire.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnatomical Record
Early online date23 May 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • morphology
  • geometric morphometrics
  • Roman
  • dog
  • archaeozoology

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