We’ve always liked animals with jobs — it’s a great example of humans and nature working together. So we’re pleased to see that, having previously worked mainly in service industries, farming, and the military, animals are now branching out into academic fields. Or at any rate, this Australian dog named Migaloo is helping archaeologists find buried human remains.

Migaloo is a black lab mix, and she’s one of those dogs who gets a little bit obsessive about things she likes. But in this case, that’s an asset, her trainer told National Geographic:

She loves to play, and she’s an absolute nut about her ball. I think she would chase it till she drops dead. So, once we trained her to recognize the odor of human bones, and taught her that she only gets her ball when she finds the target odor, she became obsessive with trying to find that odor.

Now that she’s fixated on human bones, Migaloo has found graves that are hundreds of years old. Once she locates the graves, trainers give her her favorite ball, so she doesn’t start trying to dig up her target — Migaloo might be a great archaeologist, but she still doesn’t have thumbs, so she can’t be trusted with the sensitive digging part. Also, unlike human archaeologists, she might chew up the remains once she finds them.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!