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When to Hunt a Sea Lion, When to Hunt a Manatee: The Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Mammal Hunting in Insular Settings

Author(s): Adrian Whitaker ; Christina Giovas

Year: 2016

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Summary

A notable feature of hunter-gatherer adaptations in mainland coastal settings throughout the world, is the ubiquity of marine mammal hunting. This pattern is less commonly seen in insular settings, which is surprising since marine mammals are often the only large mammal available. We develop a model based in evolutionary ecology that predicts ecological, social, and technological conditions that shape the choice to hunt marine mammals. We then evaluate this model in light of data from the island Caribbean and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands off the coast of California.

The Channel Island record demonstrates persistent hunting of marine mammals though the species hunted change through time from dolphins and porpoises to sea lions. In contrast, there is little evidence for the hunting of manatees, monk seals, and other marine mammals in the Caribbean. Possible explanations that we explore include constraints of boating and hunting technology, transport costs, the effects of preservation and resource base on the attractiveness of marine mammals as a resource, and the proximity to and connection with continental coastlines.


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When to Hunt a Sea Lion, When to Hunt a Manatee: The Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Mammal Hunting in Insular Settings. Adrian Whitaker, Christina Giovas. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403145)


Keywords


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America