Research press release


Nature Communications

Archaeology: Humans specialized in hunting monkeys and squirrels



今回、Patrick Robertsたちの研究グループは、いくつかの手法を用いて、スリランカにおいて年代測定された中で最古の考古遺跡であるFa-Hien Lena洞窟(3万8000年前と推定されている)の分析を行った。その結果、この洞窟のホモ・サピエンスが、約4万5000~3000年前に骨や細石器(小型の石器)の複雑な加工技術を用いて、霊長類とオオリス類の狩猟に特化していたことが分かった。ホモ・サピエンス集団がこのように乱獲に最も弱い動物種を利用できていたことから、Robertsたちは、これらの動物種の生活環と生息地を詳しく知っていて、持続可能な狩猟戦略を用いていたという考えを示している。

Some of the earliest known Homo sapiens in Sri Lanka specialized in hunting semi-arboreal and arboreal monkey and squirrel populations, according to a study in Nature Communications. The findings suggest that the capture of small, elusive mammals was part of the plastic behaviour of H. sapiens that allowed them to rapidly colonize a series of extreme environments apparently untouched by their hominin relatives.

From the Late Pleistocene (126,000-11,700 years ago) onwards, humans inhabited a number of diverse environments as they dispersed beyond Africa. Tropical rainforests were thought to be a barrier to this because of the lack of mammalian megafauna in these settings. However, in Sri Lanka, south-east Asia and Melanesia, the earliest evidence for human occupation is often associated with rainforest environments. Owing to a lack of detailed faunal analyses, it has been unclear which foodstuffs sustained these populations, as well as the hunting strategies used.

Patrick Roberts and colleagues applied a number of techniques to analyse the earliest dated archaeological site in Sri Lanka: the Fa-Hien Lena cave (previously dated to 38,000 years ago). The authors found that H. sapiens here specialized in hunting primates and giant squirrels from around 45,000 to 3,000 years ago, using complex bone and microlithic (small stone tool) technologies. They suggest that the human populations able to exploit these species, which were considered among those most vulnerable to overhunting, had a close knowledge of their life cycles and territories and used sustainable hunting strategies.

doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-08623-1

「Nature 関連誌注目のハイライト」は、ネイチャー広報部門が報道関係者向けに作成したリリースを翻訳したものです。より正確かつ詳細な情報が必要な場合には、必ず原著論文をご覧ください。

メールマガジンリストの「Nature 関連誌今週のハイライト」にチェックをいれていただきますと、毎週最新のNature 関連誌のハイライトを皆様にお届けいたします。