Early commensal interaction between humans and hares in Neolithic northern China

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  • Pengfei Sheng, Fudan University
  • ,
  • Yaowu Hu, Fudan University
  • ,
  • Zhouyong Sun, Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi'an
  • ,
  • Liping Yang, Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi'an
  • ,
  • Songmei Hu, Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi'an
  • ,
  • Benjamin T. Fuller
  • ,
  • Xue Shang, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Human influence on ecological niches can drive rapid changes in the diet, behaviour and evolutionary trajectories of small mammals. Archaeological evidence from the Late Neolithic Loess Plateau of northern China suggests that the expansion of millet cultivation created new selective pressures, attracting small mammals to fields and settlements. Here, the authors present direct evidence for commensal behaviour in desert hares (Lepus capensis), dating to c. 4900 years ago. Stable isotope ratio analysis of hare bones from the Neolithic site at Yangjiesha shows a diachronic increase in a C-4 (millet-based) diet, revealing, for the first time, the expansion of ancient human-hare interactions beyond the predator-prey relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-636
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • China, Loess Plateau, leporids, commensalism, human ecology, stable isotope analysis, EARLIEST EVIDENCE, COLLAGEN, ADAPTATIONS, MILLET, SITES, BONE

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