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SEMINAR: Archaeology Seminar

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Today's date is Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Archaeology Seminar : DNA of the invisible: A genetic approach to study past interactions of people and fauna Other events...
When our ancestors migrated out of Africa 100,000 years ago, a highly perfected killing machine was unleashed on the rest of the world, catching the local fauna off-guard. Wherever we travelled since then, we left a trail of destruction behind us: species have gone extinct on every continent that we invaded, from the wholly rhino in Europe to the giant wombat (Diprotodon) in Australia. But, even though pre-historic extinctions have a strange tendency to coincide with human arrival, there is a lack of solid evidence demonstrating exactly when, and how, humans caused animals to die out in the past, because of the eons of time passed since it happened. In particular, the highly fragmented nature of many zoo-archaeological bone assemblages pose a challenge in the interpretation of past interactions between people and fauna. My PhD project explores an alternative approach to study faunal remains found at archaeological sites. By sequencing DNA from less valuable material, such as sediment or highly fragmented bone remains, we analyse the species composition in three study areas: Greenland, New Zealand and Texas. We found that certain species tend to be missed by traditional approaches. For example whale species were detected at surprisingly high quantities in Greenland and in New Zealand. Furthermore, in New Zealand, we were able to describe the decline in genetic diversity that occurred in the native kākāpō population after human arrival 750 years ago. Lastly, in Texas, we detected a sudden drop in biodiversity for both flora and fauna at the onset of the Younger Dryas 12,900 years ago. But, while plant diversity recovered when temperatures rose again, animal diversity did not, suggesting that something other than climate change was to blame for the loss of faunal diversity in North America…
Speaker(s) Frederik Valeur Seersholm
Location Forrest Hall
Contact Anna Paula Motta <anapaula.motta@research.uwa.edu.au>
Start Thu, 04 Oct 2018 16:00
End Thu, 04 Oct 2018 17:00
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <ss@uwa.edu.au>
Last Updated Wed, 26 Sep 2018 14:23
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