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A dog carving found on a cliff in M.Guagnin. Credit: Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 2017

Ancient sandstone engravings found in the Arabian desert depict dogs wearing leashes, according to a paper published Thursday in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology and reported by David Grimm at Science.

Why it matters: It's difficult to date these carvings, but "based on the sequence of carving, the weathering of the rock, and the timing of switch to pastoralism" the pictures are likely 8,000-9,000 years old, writes Grimm, who notes that this would make them the oldest known depictions of dogs.

Modern resemblance: The dogs depicted have curly tails, like the Canaan dogs that live in the Middle East today.

Yes, but before the age of these engravings can be confirmed, they'll need to be tied to a well-dated archaeological site. Melinda Zeder, an archaeologist at the Smithsonian Institute of Natural History tells Grimm doing so could be difficult because "the archaeological record in this region is really spotty." Even if these aren't the oldest dog depictions we've found, they're definitely the oldest of leashes.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.