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The sites were first identified by cadaver dogs, and testing equipment had shown the possible presence of remains, police said.

Does it mean equipment testing was performed before confirmation by the dogs?

Thanks in advance!
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I can see both meanings here before and after - it is not clear to me from the sentence which came first
The event described by perfect tense should always go first, as far as I know.
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To be sure, I think we'd need at least one paragraph that precedes this sentence.
Maybe the first part about the dogs should have read The sites had first been identified ..., but the author simplified the tense to the simple past because it was clear from context that the dogs were first and the testing next.
In isolation it's a strange sequence of tenses.
CJ
In March, search crews found indications that human remains could be buried within a few yards of the ranch in Death Valley in east-central California.

The sites were first identified by cadaver dogs, and testing equipment had shown the possible presence of remains, police said.

Here's the article:

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/05/21/manson.ranch/index.html
No, but I don't blame you for asking. I expect the past perfect for the equipment use relates to some other past event in your piece.

I'd say the word "first" trumps the tense factor. Before the dogs, the "sites" as such were unknown.

Edit. Sorry guys, I got called away. This refers to the original question. A.
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CalifJimTo be sure, I think we'd need at least one paragraph that precedes this sentence.
Maybe the first part about the dogs should have read The sites had first been identified ..., but the author simplified the tense to the simple past because it was clear from context that the dogs were first and the testing next.
In isolation it's a strange sequence of tenses.
CJ
Here are the preceding and following paragraphs. It turns out that each paragraph is one sentence long. I'm not sure they shed much light on the situation.

In March, search crews found indications that human remains could be buried within a few yards of the ranch in Death Valley in east-central California.
The sites were first identified by cadaver dogs, and testing equipment had shown the possible presence of remains, police said.
Investigators used radar, magnetometers, lasers and other tools and techniques during the search, which included five "hot spots" where remains were thought to be.
Then my interpretation is that the dogs found the sites and then testing equipment was used on these sites to determine if the dogs had been correct
I think New2grammar said that, to him, a past perfect always precedes a present. It seems that is not always correct, isn't it??

CalifJim wrote:

To be sure, I think we'd need at least one paragraph that precedes this sentence.

Maybe the first part about the dogs should have read The sites had first been identified ..., but the author simplified the tense to the simple past because it was clear from context that the dogs were first and the testing next.

In isolation it's a strange sequence of tenses.

I think iff the first clause didn't have the word 'first', then we could not make the assertion that the dog found the site first and later used the equipment to verify the result. Sorry I couldn't paste the original sentence.
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