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Sci Adv. 2018 Sep 12;4(9):eaat6925. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aat6925. eCollection 2018 Sep.

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

Author information

1
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY, UK.
2
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, Waterfront Campus, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK.
3
Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.
4
Centre ValBio, Ranomafana, Ifanadiana 312, Madagascar.
5
Mention Bassins Sédimentaires Evolution Conservation, University of Antananarivo, Antananarivo, Madagascar.
6
Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, 240 Hicks Way, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.
7
School of Science, Engineering and Design, Teesside University, Borough Road, Middlesbrough TS1 3BA, UK.

Abstract

Previous research suggests that people first arrived on Madagascar by ~2500 years before present (years B.P.). This hypothesis is consistent with butchery marks on extinct lemur bones from ~2400 years B.P. and perhaps with archaeological evidence of human presence from ~4000 years B.P. We report >10,500-year-old human-modified bones for the extinct elephant birds Aepyornis and Mullerornis, which show perimortem chop marks, cut marks, and depression fractures consistent with immobilization and dismemberment. Our evidence for anthropogenic perimortem modification of directly dated bones represents the earliest indication of humans in Madagascar, predating all other archaeological and genetic evidence by >6000 years and changing our understanding of the history of human colonization of Madagascar. This revision of Madagascar's prehistory suggests prolonged human-faunal coexistence with limited biodiversity loss.

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