The Godrevy dog: Early canine or lost pet ?

G Crisp*, D Pirrie, RK Shail, RC Sabin

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    During sampling of the late Devensian St. Loy Member of the Penwith Formation at Godrevy, Cornwall, several ribs and vertebrae were discovered within the cliff face. The visible bones appeared in context with the surrounding geology with no evidence for later site disturbance or burial. During the excavation the skeleton was entirely enclosed within the coarse grained head deposits. The skeleton was articulated and nearly complete and is identified as Canis familiaris, the"domestic" dog. The recovery of this skeleton from the St. Loy Member of the Penwith Formation, generally regarded to be of mid to late Devensian age, is scientifically problematic. The accepted age for the late Devensian is 12-15,000 years BP. The oldest known domestic dogs are dated at about 10,000 years BP, although the burial of a dog or wolf puppy with a human skeleton from Israel 12,000 yrs BP is taken as early evidence of domestication. There are three possible interpretations: (1) the St. Loy Member of the Penwith Formation is younger than previously thought; (2) that Godrevy dog is a very early domestic dog; (3) that it is possible to incorporate a rcent articulated dog skeleton into Quaternary head deposits without any signs of physical disturbance at the site. Dating of the right radius bone by accelerator mass spectrometry has given a likely age for the skeleton of between 1620 AD and 1680 AD. Thus a 17th century domestic dog has been enclosed within Devensian coarse grained head deposits with no signs of disturbance to the site.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationGEOSCIENCE IN SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND
    EditorsD Pirrie
    PublisherUSSHER SOC
    Number of pages5
    VolumeVOL 10, PT 2
    Publication statusPublished - 2001
    Event39th Ussher-Society Conference - Sidmouth, United Kingdom
    Duration: 3 Jan 20016 Jan 2001

    Publication series

    PublisherUSSHER SOC
    ISSN (Print)0566-3954


    Conference39th Ussher-Society Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom




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