Agouti commensalism? An open question in the prehistoric Lesser Antilles, West Indies


Light isotope data for bone collagen, bone apatite, and tooth enamel apatite have been collected for prehistoric agouti (Dasyprocta sp.) recovered from secure archaeological contexts on Carriacou (Sabazan and Grand Bay) and Nevis (Coconut Walk) in the Lesser Antilles, West Indies. Stable carbon isotope ratios of individual specimens exhibit a wide range of values for both bone collagen (-20.0‰ to -11.5‰; avg = -17.8‰) and bone apatite (-13.6 to -6.5‰), with apatite-collagen spacing also quite varied (3.6‰ to 9.9‰; avg = 7.0‰). Corresponding nitrogen isotope ratios from these samples also exhibit heterogeneous values (6.2‰ to 11.7‰; avg = 8.0‰). The frugivorous feeding habits of agouti suggest they should exhibit a more consistent dietary pattern; however, results underscore marked dietary variation and suggest a degree of commensalism for some, but not all, individuals sampled from Carriacou and Nevis. Results are consistent with two models for human–agouti interaction: 1) mixed hunting of wild animals with captive management of others; and 2) garden hunting of agouti drawn to human agricultural fields. We explore the archaeological and ecological implications of both models.

Cite this Record

Agouti commensalism? An open question in the prehistoric Lesser Antilles, West Indies. John Krigbaum, Christina Giovas, Scott Fitzpatrick. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428993)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17265