In approximately 1800, during the last hunt at the Vore Site, a wolf-dog was killed and left in the sinkhole. The dog probably belonged to the Cheyenne as there is considerable evidence that this tribe was the last to use the Vore Site. The skull was found during the excavation in 1970 in the first cultural level, the level corresponding to the last hunt at the Site.

Until the late 1700s the only beasts of burden used by the Plains Indian tribes were dogs. Dogs, the first domesticated animals in North America, were used for hunting, hauling, transporting, guarding campsites and as a food source. Breeding dogs with wolves was common. Five canid skulls have been found at the Vore Site. These skulls provide evidence that the Native Americans broke off or filed down the canine teeth…presumably to prevent the dogs from injuring their owners or other dogs and to prevent them from chewing through their tethers.

Wolf-Dog meets Modern Science

The canid skulls found at the Vore Site are very rare and fragile, and none have been exhibited. Finally thanks to some very high technology, a museum-quality replica of the skull found in the first cultural level at the Vore Site will soon be a reality. The process began after years of storage in the Archeological Department at the University of Wyoming. University of Wyoming Professor Charles Reher took the skull to Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, Wyoming where technicians in the Radiology Department used a Siemens SOMATOM Sensation 64 CT slice scanner to generate over 1000 image files. These files were converted by Ryan Koontz from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology’s Center of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing and Production into an image file readable by a 3D printer. Using a Stratasys FDM 3000 Fused Deposition Modeling Machine a replica of the skull was printed in ABS Plastic.

The printing is done using two materials. The brown material is water-soluble and is used to support the plastic during the printing process.

This is the 3D print of the wolf-dog skull from the Site next to a modern wolf skull. Once the summer season ends, the Vore Buffalo Jump Foundation Board plans to have this 3D print used to make a silicon mold. From this mold, museum-quality casts will be made, resurfaced and fully colored to look like the original bone.