Identification of early anthropogenic movements of exotic species using sedaDNA

Author(s): Robin Allaby; Oliver Smith; Vincent Gaffney

Year: 2016


The Anthropocene is defined as the global modification of ecosystems by anthropogenic activity and is evidenced by traces in the geological record. Debate is ongoing regarding the onset of the Anthropocene, with some regarding the first traces of human activity as a starting point, while others point to later intensification and clearer anthropogenic signatures as more suitable. An early geological signature of human activity is recorded in the DNA laid down and sealed in marine sediments (sedaDNA). In this context we can see the arrival of non-endemic organisms associated with humans such as the exotic species associated with the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition. The integration of archaeological and genetic information sheds light on the development of the human ecology of the Neolithic in North West Europe, which in turn informs the process by which large scale ecologies were influenced by humans. The marine sedaDNA approach releases a latitudinal constraint on ancient DNA investigations because of the pan global nature of the preservation environment. In the future we can expect to see such approaches applied on the tens of thousands of years time scale, possibly capable of detecting the geological influence of humans from their initial expansions out of Africa.

Cite this Record

Identification of early anthropogenic movements of exotic species using sedaDNA. Robin Allaby, Oliver Smith, Vincent Gaffney. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403235)



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min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;