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Caribbean ecosystem reconstructed prior to human settlement

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Desiree
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« on: February 26, 2014, 06:01:19 pm »

First settlers

Radiocarbon dating shows the peat and its fossils to be 900-950 years old, which coincides with the first arrival of people on Abaco. These first settlers were Lucayan Taino Amerindians – the first peoples encountered by Christopher Columbus in the New World, 500 years later.

The charcoal-rich sediments suggest that the peat was deposited very quickly when this agricultural based culture first colonized the island and began to clear land for their crops by burning. This also points to the species recovered from the peat deposit in Gilpin Point to represent a snapshot of animal and plant life at the time of first human presence.

Of the 17 identified species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, the researchers found only 10 still live on Abaco – a major change in the animal life on the island. Unhealed bite marks on the inside of the thick carapaces of the green turtle show that they were scavenged by Cuban crocodiles after being butchered by humans.

The concentrated remains of large, edible animals suggest that this was an Amerindian kitchen midden. Frustratingly, the researchers initially found almost no cultural artefacts in the peat deposit. The most direct evidence of humans eventually discovered was one tiny polished shell bead. However, the deposit is only occasionally exposed and so in time, more artefacts may appear.

Janet Franklin is a professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as a senior sustainability scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability.

Source: ASU
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David W Steadman, Nancy A Albury, Perry Maillis, Jim I Mead, John Slapcinsky, Kenneth L Krysko, Hayley M Singleton, and Janet Franklin.” Late-Holocene faunal and landscape change in the Bahamas.” The Holocene February 2014 24: 220-230, first published on January 7, 2014 DOI: 10.1177/0959683613516819

Cite this article

ASU. Caribbean ecosystem reconstructed prior to human settlement. Past Horizons. February 23, 2014, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2014/caribbean-ecosystem-reconstructed-prior-to-human-settlement
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