4,000 years of animal translocations: Mocha Island and its zooarchaeological record

Author(s): Roberto Campbell; Ismael Martínez

Year: 2017


Islands are territories that allow us to assess phenomena and processes in a way that is impossible to do in the mainland. One of these concerns the human interaction with animals that are usually considered as wild.

The case of Mocha Island (Chile; South Pacific, 38,36°S) is remarkable because of its small size (50 km2), proximity to the mainland (30 km), three different and independent human occupation events, and an endemic terrestrial fauna constituted only by small reptiles, amphibians, and rodents. Here our research has shown the distinctive presence of translocated medium-to-large native mainland mammals - nutria (Myoscastor coypus), pudu (Pudu pudu), camelids (Lama sp.), fox (Lycalopex sp.), grison (Galictis sp.), and wild cat (Oncifelis sp.) - in relation to the different populations that have occupied this island: aceramic hunter-gatherers (1950-1300 BC), ceramic food-producers (100/1000-1687 AD), and Chilean tenants (1840 AD-today).

This evidence leads us then to question the simple idea of "wild animal", and opens up a set of much more complex and rich issues, such as, wild management and the use of "living reservoirs", the re-creation of known landscapes, the modification of landscapes, local extinctions, pet keeping, taming, and even the consideration of animals as non-human persons.

Cite this Record

4,000 years of animal translocations: Mocha Island and its zooarchaeological record. Roberto Campbell, Ismael Martínez. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430485)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14716