jueves, 25 de julio de 2013

Madagascar occupied by humans 2,500 years earlier than previously thought

Madagascar's first people may not have driven the island's largest animals to extinction, suggests new study.

1/2. The chipped stone items from Lakaton'i Anja. Courtesy of the authors.
New research indicates that Madagascar was occupied some 2,500 years earlier than previously established. The findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests a more complex view of the human role in the extinction of the island's mega-fauna.

A large body of research holds that village communities began to appear in Madagascar around 500 AD. These were established by people of Indonesian and East African heritage, according to past studies that found linguistic similarities between the Malagasy languages of southeastern Borneo as well as genetic markers tying modern-day Malagasy people to both Indonesia and East Africa. But there have been plenty of hints that people came to the world's third largest island well before 500 AD. For example, pollen and charcoal disposition have found evidence of fires and vegetation change linked to human activity around 0 AD, while cut-marks on prehistoric animal bones date to at least 400 BC, and possibly as far back as 2200 BC. But until now there were few artifacts that could be used to establish a presence of humans on Madagascar. [...] news.mongabay.com 

CITATION: Robert E. Dewar et al (2013). Stone tools and foraging in northern Madagascar challenge Holocene extinction models. Published online before print July 15, 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1306100110 PNAS July 15, 2013

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