When Egypt's ancient Dog Catacombs were fully excavated for the first time in 2010, scientists found about 8 million animal mummies. They're now examining the 2,500-year-old remains, and new research shows that most of the mummies are dogs—many just hours old when mummified. They were likely the product of ancient puppy mills, bred to provide dogs to Egyptians who believed that the spirit of a mummified dog could transport prayers into the afterlife, where they were heard by the canine-headed god Anubis.
The Dog Catacombs were discovered more than a century ago, but new research is shedding more light on the mummies discovered there. They were piled there between approximately the late sixth century BC and the late first century BC, National Geographic reports, and hold dogs of "all shapes and sizes," says an archaeologist. "I think they [mummified] whatever was there at the time and whatever suited the pilgrim's pocket." They've deteriorated to the point that "it's not easy to identify individual mummies in the galleries or in the photographs," says one expert. "We have piles of mummy remains just over a meter high, on average, that just fill the side tunnels." Click to see photos. (Read more mummies stories.)