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Basal Metabolic Rate and Maternal Energetic Investment Durations in Mammals

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

The Metabolic Theory of Ecology (MTE) predicts that gestation duration, lactation duration, and their sum, total development time, are constrained by mass-specific basal metabolic rate such that they should scale with body mass with an exponent of 0.25. However, tests of the MTE’s predictions have yielded mixed results. In an effort to resolve this uncertainty, we used phylogenetically-controlled regression to investigate the allometries of gestation duration, lactation duration, and total development time in four well-studied mammalian orders, Artiodactyla, Carnivora, Primates, and Rodentia.

Results

The results we obtained are not consistent with the predictions of the MTE. Gestation duration scaling exponents are below 0.25 in all four orders. The scaling exponent for lactation duration is below 0.25 in Carnivora and Rodentia, indistinguishable from 0.25 in Artiodactyls, and steeper than 0.25 in Primates. Total development time scales with body mass as predicted by the MTE in Primates, but not in artiodactyls, carnivores, and rodents. In the latter three orders, the exponent is 0.15.

Conclusions

Together, these results indicate that the influence of basal metabolic rate on mammalian maternal investment durations must be more complicated than the MTE envisages, and that other factors must play an important role. Future research needs to allow for the possibility that different factors drive gestation duration and lactation duration, and that the drivers of the two durations may differ among orders.

Document type: 
Article
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Population Size and Cultural Evolution in Nonindustrial Food-Producing Societies

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Modeling work suggests that population size affects cultural evolution such that larger populations can be expected to have richer and more complex cultural repertoires than smaller populations. Empirical tests of this hypothesis, however, have yielded conflicting results. Here, we report a study in which we investigated whether the subsistence toolkits of small-scale food-producers are influenced by population size in the manner the hypothesis predicts. We applied simple linear and standard multiple regression analysis to data from 40 nonindustrial farming and pastoralist groups to test the hypothesis. Results were consistent with predictions of the hypothesis: both the richness and the complexity of the toolkits of the food-producers were positively and significantly influenced by population size in the simple linear regression analyses. The multiple regression analyses demonstrated that these relationships are independent of the effects of risk of resource failure, which is the other main factor that has been found to influence toolkit richness and complexity in nonindustrial groups. Thus, our study strongly suggests that population size influences cultural evolution in nonindustrial food-producing populations.

Document type: 
Article
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Ancient mtDNA Analysis of Early 16th Century Caribbean Cattle Provides Insight into Founding Populations of New World Creole Cattle Breeds

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

The Columbian Exchange resulted in a widespread movement of humans, plants and animals between the Old and New Worlds. The late 15th to early 16th century transfer of cattle from the Iberian Peninsula and Canary Islands to the Caribbean laid the foundation for the development of American creole cattle (Bos taurus) breeds. Genetic analyses of modern cattle from the Americas reveal a mixed ancestry of European, African and Indian origins. Recent debate in the genetic literature centers on the ‘African’ haplogroup T1 and its subhaplogroups, alternatively tying their origins to the initial Spanish herds, and/or from subsequent movements of taurine cattle through the African slave trade. We examine this problem through ancient DNA analysis of early 16th century cattle bone from Sevilla la Nueva, the first Spanish colony in Jamaica. In spite of poor DNA preservation, both T3 and T1 haplogroups were identified in the cattle remains, confirming the presence of T1 in the earliest Spanish herds. The absence, however, of “African-derived American” haplotypes (AA/T1c1a1) in the Sevilla la Nueva sample, leaves open the origins of this sub-haplogroup in contemporary Caribbean cattle.

Document type: 
Article
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A Reassessment of Bergmann's Rule in Modern Humans

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

It is widely accepted that modern humans conform to Bergmann's rule, which holds that body size in endothermic species will increase as temperature decreases. However, there are reasons to question the reliability of the findings on which this consensus is based. One of these is that the main studies that have reported that modern humans conform to Bergmann's rule have employed samples that contain a disproportionately large number of warm-climate and northern hemisphere groups. With this in mind, we used latitudinally-stratified and hemisphere-specific samples to re-assess the relationship between modern human body size and temperature. We found that when groups from north and south of the equator were analyzed together, Bergmann's rule was supported. However, when groups were separated by hemisphere, Bergmann's rule was only supported in the northern hemisphere. In the course of exploring these results further, we found that the difference between our northern and southern hemisphere subsamples is due to the limited latitudinal and temperature range in the latter subsample. Thus, our study suggests that modern humans do conform to Bergmann's rule but only when there are major differences in latitude and temperature among groups. Specifically, groups must span more than 50 degrees of latitude and/or more than 30°C for it to hold. This finding has important implications for work on regional variation in human body size and its relationship to temperature.

Document type: 
Article
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High Potential for Using DNA from Ancient Herring Bones to Inform Modern Fisheries Management and Conservation

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi) are an abundant and important component of the coastal ecosystems for the west coast of North America. Current Canadian federal herring management assumes five regional herring populations in British Columbia with a high degree of exchange between units, and few distinct local populations within them. Indigenous traditional knowledge and historic sources, however, suggest that locally adapted, distinct regional herring populations may have been more prevalent in the past. Within the last century, the combined effects of commercial fishing and other anthropogenic factors have resulted in severe declines of herring populations, with contemporary populations potentially reflecting only the remnants of a previously more abundant and genetically diverse metapopulation. Through the analysis of 85 archaeological herring bones, this study attempted to reconstruct the genetic diversity and population structure of ancient herring populations using three different marker systems (mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), microsatellites and SNPs). A high success rate (91%) of DNA recovery was obtained from the extremely small herring bone samples (often <10 mg). The ancient herring mtDNA revealed high haplotype diversity comparable to modern populations, although population discrimination was not possible due to the limited power of the mtDNA marker. Ancient microsatellite diversity was also similar to modern samples, but the data quality was compromised by large allele drop-out and stuttering. In contrast, SNPs were found to have low error rates with no evidence for deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, and simulations indicated high power to detect genetic differentiation if loci under selection are used. This study demonstrates that SNPs may be the most effective and feasible approach to survey genetic population structure in ancient remains, and further efforts should be made to screen for high differentiation markers.This study provides the much needed foundation for wider scale studies on temporal genetic variation in herring, with important implications for herring fisheries management, Aboriginal title rights and herring conservation.

Document type: 
Article
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High Precision U/Th Dating of First Polynesian Settlement

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

Previous studies document Nukuleka in the Kingdom of Tonga as a founder colony for first settlement of Polynesia by Lapita peoples. A limited number of radiocarbon dates are one line of evidence supporting this claim, but they cannot precisely establish when this event occurred, nor can they afford a detailed chronology for sequent occupation. High precision U/Th dates of Acropora coral files (abraders) from Nukuleka give unprecedented resolution, identifying the founder event by 2838±8 BP and documenting site development over the ensuing 250 years. The potential for dating error due to post depositional diagenetic alteration of ancient corals at Nukuleka also is addressed through sample preparation protocols and paired dates on spatially separated samples for individual specimens. Acropora coral files are widely distributed in Lapita sites across Oceania. U/Th dating of these artifacts provides unparalleled opportunities for greater precision and insight into the speed and timing of this final chapter in human settlement of the globe.

Document type: 
Article

Earliest Mexican Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) in the Maya Region: Implications for Pre-Hispanic Animal Trade and the Timing of Turkey Domestication

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

Late Preclassic (300 BC–AD 100) turkey remains identified at the archaeological site of El Mirador (Petén, Guatemala) represent the earliest evidence of the Mexican turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) in the ancient Maya world. Archaeological, zooarchaeological, and ancient DNA evidence combine to confirm the identification and context. The natural pre-Hispanic range of the Mexican turkey does not extend south of central Mexico, making the species non-local to the Maya area where another species, the ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata), is indigenous. Prior to this discovery, the earliest evidence of M. gallopavo in the Maya area dated to approximately one thousand years later. The El Mirador specimens therefore represent previously unrecorded Preclassic exchange of animals from northern Mesoamerica to the Maya cultural region. As the earliest evidence of M. gallopavo found outside its natural geographic range, the El Mirador turkeys also represent the earliest indirect evidence for Mesoamerican turkey rearing or domestication. The presence of male, female and sub-adult turkeys, and reduced flight morphology further suggests that the El Mirador turkeys were raised in captivity. This supports an argument for the origins of turkey husbandry or at least captive rearing in the Preclassic.

Document type: 
Article
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Risk of Resource Failure and Toolkit Variation in Small-Scale Farmers and Herders

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

Recent work suggests that global variation in toolkit structure among hunter-gatherers is driven by risk of resource failure such that as risk of resource failure increases, toolkits become more diverse and complex. Here we report a study in which we investigated whether the toolkits of small-scale farmers and herders are influenced by risk of resource failure in the same way. In the study, we applied simple linear and multiple regression analysis to data from 45 small-scale food-producing groups to test the risk hypothesis. Our results were not consistent with the hypothesis; none of the risk variables we examined had a significant impact on toolkit diversity or on toolkit complexity. It appears, therefore, that the drivers of toolkit structure differ between hunter-gatherers and small-scale food-producers.

Document type: 
Article

An Assessment of the Impact of Hafting on Paleoindian Point Variability

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

It has long been argued that the form of North American Paleoindian points was affected by hafting. According to this hypothesis, hafting constrained point bases such that they are less variable than point blades. The results of several studies have been claimed to be consistent with this hypothesis. However, there are reasons to be skeptical of these results. None of the studies employed statistical tests, and all of them focused on points recovered from kill and camp sites, which makes it difficult to be certain that the differences in variability are the result of hafting rather than a consequence of resharpening. Here, we report a study in which we tested the predictions of the hafting hypothesis by statistically comparing the variability of different parts of Clovis points. We controlled for the potentially confounding effects of resharpening by analyzing largely unused points from caches as well as points from kill and camp sites. The results of our analyses were not consistent with the predictions of the hypothesis. We found that several blade characters and point thickness were no more variable than the base characters. Our results indicate that the hafting hypothesis does not hold for Clovis points and indicate that there is a need to test its applicability in relation to post-Clovis Paleoindian points.

Document type: 
Article

The Origin of Malarial Parasites in Orangutans

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

Background

Recent findings of Plasmodium in African apes have changed our perspectives on the evolution of malarial parasites in hominids. However, phylogenetic analyses of primate malarias are still missing information from Southeast Asian apes. In this study, we report molecular data for a malaria parasite lineage found in orangutans.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We screened twenty-four blood samples from Pongo pygmaeus (Kalimantan, Indonesia) for Plasmodium parasites by PCR. For all the malaria positive orangutan samples, parasite mitochondrial genomes (mtDNA) and two antigens: merozoite surface protein 1 42 kDa (MSP-142) and circumsporozoite protein gene (CSP) were amplified, cloned, and sequenced. Fifteen orangutans tested positive and yielded 5 distinct mitochondrial haplotypes not previously found. The haplotypes detected exhibited low genetic divergence among them, indicating that they belong to one species. We report phylogenetic analyses using mitochondrial genomes, MSP-142 and CSP. We found that the orangutan malaria parasite lineage was part of a monophyletic group that includes all the known non-human primate malaria parasites found in Southeast Asia; specifically, it shares a recent common ancestor with P. inui (a macaque parasite) and P. hylobati (a gibbon parasite) suggesting that this lineage originated as a result of a host switch. The genetic diversity of MSP-142 in orangutans seems to be under negative selection. This result is similar to previous findings in non-human primate malarias closely related to P. vivax. As has been previously observed in the other Plasmodium species found in non-human primates, the CSP shows high polymorphism in the number of repeats. However, it has clearly distinctive motifs from those previously found in other malarial parasites.

Conclusion

The evidence available from Asian apes indicates that these parasites originated independently from those found in Africa, likely as the result of host switches from other non-human primates.

Document type: 
Article