Research ArticleARCHAEOLOGY

Early Holocene human presence in Madagascar evidenced by exploitation of avian megafauna

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Science Advances  12 Sep 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 9, eaat6925
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat6925
  • Fig. 1 Vegetation map of late Holocene (pre-industrial) Madagascar, showing sites with butchered elephant bird bones and calibrated AMS radiocarbon dates.
  • Fig. 2 A. maximus skeletal reconstruction.

    Highlighted elements correspond to Figs. 3 (blue) and 4 (yellow). Adapted from original drawing by A. Rasolao.

  • Fig. 3 A. maximus tarsometatarsus (USNM A605208).

    (A) Distal aspect of A. maximus tarsometatarsus (USNM A605208) from Christmas River (USNM A605208), showing five cut marks: three (TM-1 to TM-3) on the central trochlea (digit III), one (TM-4) on the medial trochlea (digit II), and one (TM-5) on the lateral trochlea (digit IV). (B) Cross section of TM-1 at ×30 magnification, illustrating depth using a topographic height color scale. Photo credit: V. R. Pérez, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

  • Fig. 4 A. maximus tibiotarsus (USNM A605209).

    (A) Depression fracture on the anterior fascia of the proximal end of A. maximus tibiotarsus (USNM A605209) from Christmas River (USNM A605209). (B) Depression fracture on the lateral aspect of the posterior fascia. (C) Distal aspect of tibiotarsus, showing two cut marks (TajT-3 and TT-4). (D) Close-up and profile of cut mark TT-3 on the medial condyle of the distal articular process (digital thin section shows the wall and kerf floor of the mark). Photo credit: V. R. Pérez, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

  • Table 1 Dimensions of tool marks on A. maximus USNM A605209 (TT: Tibiotarsus) and USNM AS05208 (TM: Tarsometatarsus).
    Mark numberModificationMaximum length (mm)Maximum width (mm)Maximum depth (mm)
    TM-1Cut mark16.75.31.6
    TM-2Cut mark11.04.71.3
    TM-3Cut mark12.43.31.3
    TM-4Cut mark14.75.43.3
    TM-5Cut mark5.74.43.8
    TT-1Depression fracture18.417.36.8
    TT-2Depression fracture52.116.67.6
    TT-3Chop mark44.57.85.1
    TT-4Cut mark18.14.22.0
  • Table 2 List of newly recognized elephant bird bones with perimortem anthropogenic modification and associated AMS radiocarbon dates.

    USNM, National Museum of Natural History/Smithsonian Institution; MNHN, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (Paris); N/A, not available.

    Specimen numberSpeciesElementLocationSample number14C age
    (years B.P.)
    Calibrated date
    (years B.P.), ±2σ
    USNM A605209*A. maximusTibiotarsusChristmas RiverUBA-315909428 ± 5310,721–10,511
    USNM A605209*A. maximusTibiotarsusChristmas RiverHela-17749535 ± 7010,721–10,511
    USNM A605208*A. maximusTarsometatarsusChristmas RiverN/ASee USNM A605209See USNM A605209
    MNHN
    MAD6768
    Mullerornis sp.TibiotarsusLamboharanaUBA-297265597 ± 406,415–6,282 (93.6%)
    MNHN
    MAD1906-16-67
    A. maximusTibiotarsusAmbolisatraOxA-335351297 ± 241,182–1,057 (93.7%)
    MNHN
    MAD6662
    Mullerornis sp.TarsometatarsusUnknownUBA-197251296 ± 321,270–1,074 (95.4%)
    MNHN MAD384Aepyornis
    hildebrandti
    TarsometatarsusAntsirabeN/AFailedFailed

    *Same individual.

    Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/4/9/eaat6925/DC1

      Fig. S1. Mullerornis sp. tibiotarsus from Lamboharana (MNHN MAD6768) dated to 6415 to 6282 years B.P., exhibiting a shallow, laterally oriented linear anthropogenic mark on the distal end of the posterior fascia of the diaphysis.

      Fig. S2. A. maximus tibiotarsus from Ambolisatra (MNHN 1906-16-67) directly dated to 1182 to 1057 years B.P., exhibiting four linear anthropogenic marks disseminated across the proximal epiphysis.

      Fig. S3. Mullerornis sp. tarsometatarsus from an unknown locality on Madagascar (MNHN MAD6662) directly dated to 1270 to 1054 years B.P., exhibiting an open-ended linear anthropogenic groove on the lateral portion of the distal epiphysis (16 mm length, 2.5 mm maximum depth, 3 mm maximum width), oriented laterally across the articular surface and angled toward the posterior distal epiphysis of the central condyle.

      Fig. S4. A. hildebrandti tarsometatarsus from Antsirabe (MNHN MAD384), which failed AMS dating due to low collagen yield.

    • Supplementary Materials

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      • Fig. S1. Mullerornis sp. tibiotarsus from Lamboharana (MNHN MAD6768) dated to 6415 to 6282 years B.P., exhibiting a shallow, laterally oriented linear anthropogenic mark on the distal end of the posterior fascia of the diaphysis.
      • Fig. S2. A. maximus tibiotarsus from Ambolisatra (MNHN 1906-16-67) directly dated to 1182 to 1057 years B.P., exhibiting four linear anthropogenic marks disseminated across the proximal epiphysis.
      • Fig. S3. Mullerornis sp. tarsometatarsus from an unknown locality on Madagascar (MNHN MAD6662) directly dated to 1270 to 1054 years B.P., exhibiting an open-ended linear anthropogenic groove on the lateral portion of the distal epiphysis (16 mm length, 2.5 mm maximum depth, 3 mm maximum width), oriented laterally across the articular surface and angled toward the posterior distal epiphysis of the central condyle.
      • Fig. S4. A. hildebrandti tarsometatarsus from Antsirabe (MNHN MAD384), which failed AMS dating due to low collagen yield.

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