This study explores the interrelationship between the genus Canis and hunter–gatherers through a case study of prehistoric Native Americans in the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento Delta area. A distinctive aspect of the region's prehistoric record is the interment of canids, variously classified as coyotes, dogs, and wolves. Since these species are difficult to distinguish based solely on morphology, ancient DNA analysis was employed to distinguish species. The DNA study results, the first on canids from archaeological sites in California, are entirely represented by domesticated dogs (including both interments and disarticulated samples from midden deposits). These results, buttressed by stable isotope analyses, provide new insight into the complex interrelationship between humans and canids in both ritual and prosaic contexts, and reveal a more prominent role for dogs than previously envisioned.
Alan M. Leventhal, Brian F. Byrd, Anna Cornellas, Jelmer W. Eerkens, Jeffrey Rosenthal, Tim R. Carpenter, and Jennifer A. Leonard. "The Role of Canids in Ritual and Domestic Contexts: New Ancient DNA Insights from Complex Hunter-Gatherer Sites in Prehistoric Central California" Journal of Archaeological Science (2013): 2176-2189. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2012.12.020