Navigation Links
Archaeologists find new evidence of animals being introduced to prehistoric Caribbean

An archaeological research team from North Carolina State University, the University of Washington and University of Florida has found one of the most diverse collections of prehistoric non-native animal remains in the Caribbean, on the tiny island of Carriacou. The find contributes to our understanding of culture in the region before the arrival of Columbus, and suggests Carriacou may have been more important than previously thought.

The researchers found evidence of five species that were introduced to Carriacou from South America between 1,000 and 1,400 years ago. Only one of these species, the opossum, can still be found on the island. The other species were pig-like peccaries, armadillos, guinea pigs and small rodents called agoutis.

Researchers think the animals were used as sources of food. The scarcity of the remains, and the few sites where they were found, indicate that the animals were not for daily consumption. "We suspect that they may have been foods eaten by people of high status, or used in ritual events," says Dr. Scott Fitzpatrick, an associate professor of anthropology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research.

"Looking for patterning in the distribution of animal remains in relation to where ritual artifacts and houses are found will help to test this idea," said Christina Giovas, lead author and a Ph.D. student at the University of Washington.

The team, which also included Ph.D. student Michelle LeFebvre of the University of Florida, found the animal remains at two different sites on the island, and used carbon dating techniques to determine their age. The opossum and agouti were the most common, with the latter remains reflecting the longest presence, running from A.D. 600 to 1400. The guinea pig remains had the shortest possible time-frame, running from A.D. 985 to 1030.

These dates are consistent with similar findings on other Caribbean islands. However, while these species have been found on other islands, it is incredibly rare for one island to have remains from all of these species. Guinea pigs, for example, were previously unknown in this part of the Caribbean. The diversity is particularly surprising, given that Carriacou is one of the smallest settled islands in the Caribbean, though the number of remains is still not that large a pattern seen on other islands as well.

This combination of small geographical area and robust prehistoric animal diversity, along with evidence for artifact trade with other islands and South America, suggests that Carriacou may have had some significance in the pre-Columbian Caribbean as a nexus of interaction between island communities.

The animal remains are also significant because they were found in archaeological digs at well-documented prehistoric villages and the remains themselves were dated, as opposed to just the materials (such as charcoal) found near the remains.

"The fact that the dates established by radiocarbon dating are consistent with the dates of associated materials from the villages means the chronology is well established," says Fitzpatrick, who has been doing research on Carriacou since 2003. "In the future we'd like to expand one of the lesser excavated sites to get more information on how common these species may have been, which could shed light on the ecological impact and social importance of these species prehistorically."

The paper, "New records for prehistoric introduction of Neotropical mammals to the West Indies: evidence from Carriacou, Lesser Antilles," is published online in the Journal of Biogeography and was co-authored by Fitzpatrick, Giovas and LeFebvre. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, NC State, the University of Washington and the University of Florida.


Contact: Matt Shipman
North Carolina State University

Related biology news :

1. Soybean adoption came early by many cultures, archaeologists say
2. Archaeologists explore Iraqi marshes for origins of urbanization
3. Evidence supports ban on growth promotion use of antibiotics in farming
4. Researcher provides further evidence that slow eating reduces food intake
5. UA scientists find evidence of Roman period megadrought
6. Evidence for spinal membrane as a source of stem cells may advance spinal cord treatment
7. New genetic evidence confirms coyote migration route to Virginia and hybridization with wolves
8. New evidence for the oldest oxygen-breathing life on land
9. UMass researcher points to suppression of evidence on radiation effects by 1946 Nobel Laureate
10. Pitt team finds molecular evidence of brain changes in depressed females
11. More evidence that spicing up broccoli boosts its cancer-fighting power
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Archaeologists find new evidence of animals being introduced to prehistoric Caribbean
(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015   MedNet Solutions , an ... spectrum of clinical research, is pleased to announce that ... Association (MHTA) as one of only three finalists for ... – Small and Growing" category. The Tekne Awards honor ... shown superior technology innovation and leadership. ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or ... the growing mobile commerce market and creator of ... leading marketplace to discover and buy innovative technology ... on StackSocial for this holiday season.   ... a biometric authentication company focused on the growing ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... India , October 26, 2015 ... --> adds ... 2015 to 2021 as well as ... 2015-2019 research reports to its collection ... . --> ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- SHPG ) announced today that Jeff Poulton ... th Annual Healthcare Conference in New York City ... EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> SHPG ) announced today ... the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... CITY , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - ... "Company") announced today that the remaining 11,000 post-share ... Share Purchase Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") subject ... were exercised on November 23, 2015, which will ... Shares.  After giving effect to the issuance of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... InSphero AG, the leading supplier of easy-to-use solutions for ... Aregger to serve as Chief Operating Officer. , Having joined InSphero in ... and was promoted to Head of InSphero Diagnostics in 2014. There she ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Capricor Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... development and commercialization of first-in-class therapeutics, today announced that ... scheduled to present at the 2015 Piper Jaffray Healthcare ... at The Lotte New York Palace Hotel in ... . --> . ...
Breaking Biology Technology: