Mammal species diversity on Cayman Brac (Cayman Islands) via collagen fingerprinting


The endemic terrestrial mammals of the Cayman Islands in the western Caribbean Sea all appear to have become extinct since the start of human colonisation 500 years ago. Extinct fauna include two species of the soricomorph Nesophontes and three species of Capromyid rodent. Introduced rodents and domesticated species now exclusively represent the terrestrial mammal fauna of the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands are carbonate-dominated successions typified by karst limestone that includes numerous caves and rock fissures. The sedimentary deposits within the caves preserve sub-fossil remains documenting island biodiversity through time in a tropical environment that would not usually conserve organic remains. We have used collagen fingerprinting, Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS), to rapidly mass-identify fragmentary skeletal samples from the caves of Cayman Brac and screen for those amenable to radiocarbon dating, potentially utilised to reveal extinction chronologies. ZooMS and 14C dating in combination enable us to establish a biodiversity ‘catalogue’ to showcase species presence and abundance throughout the zooarchaeological record - spanning human colonisation. Such knowledge can improve our understanding of anthropogenic impacts in this locality and can easily be transposed to other comparable biomes.

Cite this Record

Mammal species diversity on Cayman Brac (Cayman Islands) via collagen fingerprinting. Virginia Harvey, Mike Buckley, Phillip Manning, Victoria Egerton, Andrew Chamberlain. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404577)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;