New records for prehistoric introduction of Neotropical mammals to the West Indies: evidence from Carriacou, Lesser Antilles
Aim This paper investigates the prehistoric introduction of five mammalian taxa to Carriacou (Lesser Antilles) and refines the known anthropogenic ranges for these fauna in the pre‐Columbian West Indies. The importance of such records for understanding the region’s historical biogeography and ecology is considered.
Location Carriacou Island, Grenada (12°28′ N, 61°26′ W).
Methods Zooarchaeological assemblages from Carriacou’s earliest documented prehistoric sites, Grand Bay and Sabazan, were analysed, and exotic taxa were identified and quantified. The timing of introductions was established based on multiple radiocarbon assays, including three new accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) direct dates obtained on the bone of exotic taxa. Source species and location(s) are considered and compared with known prehistoric records for the Caribbean to synthesize anthropogenic distributions for the pre‐Columbian period. The contexts of the zooarchaeological remains are evaluated to better understand the nature and purpose of introductions.
Results Zooarchaeological investigation on Carriacou reveals the occurrence of multiple mammal introductions from South American between c.
Main conclusions The taxonomic combination and richness of Carriacou’s introduced fauna are unusual within the region. Importantly, the new records significantly improve the known pre‐Columbian geographic range for peccary, guinea pig and armadillo. Integrated with regional records, these data augment our understanding of the Caribbean’s historical biogeography, and have the potential to improve our understanding of human mobility and anthropogenic environmental impacts in the West Indies prior to the arrival of Europeans.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Department of Anthropology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA 2: Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA 3: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
Publication date: 2012-03-01