Palaeoproteomic analyses of dog palaeofaeces reveal a preserved dietary and host digestive proteome

Anne Kathrine W Runge, Jessica Hendy, Kristine K Richter, Edouard Masson-MacLean, Kate Britton, Meaghan Mackie, Krista McGrath, Matthew Collins, Enrico Cappellini, Camilla Speller

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The domestic dog has inhabited the anthropogenic niche for at least 15 000 years, but despite their impact on human strategies, the lives of dogs and their interactions with humans have only recently become a subject of interest to archaeologists. In the Arctic, dogs rely exclusively on humans for food during the winter, and while stable isotope analyses have revealed dietary similarities at some sites, deciphering the details of provisioning strategies have been challenging. In this study, we apply zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry (ZooMS) and liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry to dog palaeofaeces to investigate protein preservation in this highly degradable material and obtain information about the diet of domestic dogs at the Nunalleq site, Alaska. We identify a suite of digestive and metabolic proteins from the host species, demonstrating the utility of this material as a novel and viable substrate for the recovery of gastrointestinal proteomes. The recovered proteins revealed that the Nunalleq dogs consumed a range of Pacific salmon species (coho, chum, chinook and sockeye) and that the consumed tissues derived from muscle and bone tissues as well as roe and guts. Overall, the study demonstrated the viability of permafrost-preserved palaeofaeces as a unique source of host and dietary proteomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20210020
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1954
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2021

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