, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 351-376

Dogs as Analogs in Stable Isotope-Based Human Paleodietary Reconstructions: A Review and Considerations for Future Use

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Abstract

In contexts where human remains are scarce, poorly preserved, or otherwise unavailable for stable isotope-based paleodietary reconstruction, dog bone collagen as well as other tissues may provide a suitable proxy material for addressing questions relating to human dietary practices. Inferences drawn from applications of this “canine surrogacy approach” (CSA) must be made with caution to ensure the accuracy and transparency of conclusions. This paper shows that CSA applications are essentially analogical inferences which can be divided into two groups that provide specific types of information and may require different levels of substantiation. A framework of three categories of factors is outlined to aid in establishing positive, negative, and neutral elements of comparison of dog and human diets. CSA applications may benefit from explicitly detailing the type and nature of the analogical reasoning employed and from providing a systematic assessment of the degree to which stable isotope values of dogs and humans under comparison are thought to be like, unlike, or of unknown likeness.