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Ancient tortoise hunting in the southwest Pacific
Hawkins, S.; Worthy, T.H.; Bedford, S.; Spriggs, M.; Clark, G.; Irwin, G.; Best, S.; Kirch, P. (2016). Ancient tortoise hunting in the southwest Pacific. NPG Scientific Reports 6(38317): 6 pp. http://hdl.handle.net/10.1038/srep38317
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322; e-ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Authors  Top 
  • Hawkins, S.
  • Worthy, T.H.
  • Bedford, S.
  • Spriggs, M.
  • Clark, G.
  • Irwin, G.
  • Best, S.
  • Kirch, P.

Abstract
    We report the unprecedented Lapita exploitation and subsequent extinction of large megafauna tortoises (?Meiolania damelipi) on tropical islands during the late Holocene over a 281,000 km2 region of the southwest Pacific spanning from the Vanuatu archipelago to Viti Levu in Fiji. Zooarchaeological analyses have identified seven early archaeological sites with the remains of this distinctive hornless tortoise, unlike the Gondwanan horned meiolaniid radiation to the southwest. These large tortoise radiations in the Pacific may have contributed to the rapid dispersal of early mobile Neolithic hunters throughout southwest Melanesia and on to western Polynesia. Subsequent rapid extinctions of these terrestrial herbivorous megafauna are likely to have led to significant changes in ecosystems that help explain changes in current archaeological patterns from Post-Lapita contexts in the region.

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