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migalooIt’s well known that dogs are man’s best friend. Homo sapiens and Canis lupus have lived together for at least 15,000 years. During that time, dogs have contributed to the well-being of the family. They’ve guarded our homes, herded our livestock, helped our disabled and policed our streets.

Dogs are great contributors because they possess extraordinary sensory perception. They see better than us, hear better than us and smell better than us. Maybe some of us need deodorant?

Due of their excellent sense of smell, dogs make great detection animals. They been used to ferret out illegal drugs, explosives, criminals and honey bees. Biologists have been using them as conservation dogs to sniff out different species, invasive plants and even whale poop. Now from Australia we learn that a dog handler has trained the world’s first canine archaeologist.

Gary Jackson of Multinational K9 has trained a black lab named Migaloo to hunt for human bones that are centuries old. Like most dogs, Migaloo loves to play ball. Jackson used this in her training. After he acquainted her the smell of ancient bones, he taught her that she can only have her ball if she targets the odor. Migaloo became an obsessive archaeologist.

Now, I just have to bounce the ball a few times and say: “D’ya want this? Find.” She’ll go out and start sniffing like a hyperactive kid, and before long she lets me know: “I’ve got something!”

This may actually be a major breakthrough. The process of discovering ancient remains has always been expensive and time consuming. Now all you need is a well-trained dog and a tennis ball.

[National Geographic]