SFI Colloquium: ‘Early Hunters and Extinctions in Northern Madagascar…

Henry T. Wright/Courtesy SFI

SFI News:

3:30 p.m • Thursday, Feb. 27 • Noyce Conference Room  • 1399 Hyde Park Road • Santa Fe

Henry T. Wright of the University of Michigan and an SFI external professor will present an SFI Colloquium, “Early Hunters and Extinctions in Northern Madagascar: Research on the Newly Found Stone Age Peoples of Madagascar.”

Abstract. The idea that Ice Age hunters armed with tools of wood and stone drove major elements of their prey to extinction is nowhere resolved. Madagascar was thought to be a case of iron-using herders and farmers, arriving about 2,000 years ago devastating a mini-continent untouched by human predators, and destroying all terrestrial fauna of more than 10 kilograms in weight. The discovery of a foraging camp with stone tools in 2007 opened the possibility that the conventional explanation was false.

Field workers dropped other projects and focused on finding new sites with better evidence of hunting and gathering. In 2011, a campsite with similar tools dated to 4,000 or more years ago was found. The animal remains have now been studied and both smaller extant lemurs as well as large extinct lemurs were hunted and eaten. The study of morphology, genetics, dental anomalies, are allowing inference of size, reproduction, weaning, and mortality, are underway, and we will soon be able to model the impact of hunting on the faunas of different parts of Madagascar.

SFI Host: Jerry Sabloff