The early hunting dog from Dmanisi with comments on the social behaviour in Canidae and hominins

Saverio Bartolini-Lucenti*, Joan Madurell-Malapeira, Bienvenido Martínez-Navarro, Paul Palmqvist, David Lordkipanidze, Lorenzo Rook

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The renowned site of Dmanisi in Georgia, southern Caucasus (ca. 1.8 Ma) yielded the earliest direct evidence of hominin presence out of Africa. In this paper, we report on the first record of a large-sized canid from this site, namely dentognathic remains, referable to a young adult individual that displays hypercarnivorous features (e.g., the reduction of the m1 metaconid and entoconid) that allow us to include these specimens in the hypodigm of the late Early Pleistocene species Canis (Xenocyon) lycaonoides. Much fossil evidence suggests that this species was a cooperative pack-hunter that, unlike other large-sized canids, was capable of social care toward kin and non-kin members of its group. This rather derived hypercarnivorous canid, which has an East Asian origin, shows one of its earliest records at Dmanisi in the Caucasus, at the gates of Europe. Interestingly, its dispersal from Asia to Europe and Africa followed a parallel route to that of hominins, but in the opposite direction. Hominins and hunting dogs, both recorded in Dmanisi at the beginning of their dispersal across the Old World, are the only two Early Pleistocene mammal species with proved altruistic behaviour towards their group members, an issue discussed over more than one century in evolutionary biology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13501
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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