In the Chauvet Cave, three types of remains indicate the incursion of wolves or two species or sub-species of canidae distinct from the fox. These are bone remains, footprints sometimes forming trails, and coprolites (fossilised excrement).

Producing inventories of the wolf bones is no straightforward task, since some of them, located away from the secure pathway, can only be observed from a distance, while others are partially buried. Likewise, a skull in the Brunel Chamber can be attributed to a small wolf (Canis lupus), probably a female. Its dimensions, however, are also compatible with those of a dog's skull (Canis lupus familiaris). Nor are all the footprints typical of wolves; some of them are more similar to those of dogs. Various arguments, therefore, make us question whether dogs or a particular species of wolf were present at Chauvet.

The DNA analysis in one coprolite provided information about the genome and diet of one of the canidae. The mitochondrial genome sequence reveals a maternal line of wolves that is now extinct. The nuclear genome is now being studied to find out whether this is an ancestral form of the dog. Whatever it was, we know why it was present in the cave: the DNA in the coprolite reveals that the animal had consumed cave bears, no doubt attracted by hibernating bears or their carcasses.

Panoramique associé
Type de notice
  •  Canine Footprint in the Skull Chamber

  •  Sampling of a coprolith (fossilised excrement)