Pre-Hispanic Mexican civilization may have bred and managed rabbits and hares
Humans living in the pre-Hispanic Mexican city of Teotihuacan may have bred rabbits and hares for food, fur and bone tools, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Andrew Somerville from the University of California San Diego, US, and colleagues.
|An illustration of the leporid sculpture from the Oztoyahualco compound of Teotihuacan |
[Credit: F. Botas]
Compared to modern wild specimens, the authors found that Teotihuacan rabbit and hare specimens had carbon isotope values indicating higher levels of human-farmed crops, such as maize, in their diet. The specimens with the greatest difference in isotope values came from a Teotihuacan complex that contained traces of animal butchering and a rabbit sculpture.
While the ancient rabbits and hares included in this study could have consumed at least some farmed crops through raiding of fields or wild plants, the authors suggest their findings indicate that Teotihuacan residents may have provisioned, managed, or bred rabbits and hares for food, fur, and bone tools, which could be new evidence of small mammal husbandry in Mesoamerica.
"Because no large mammals such as goats, cows, or horses were available for domestication in pre-Hispanic Mexico, many assume that Native Americans did not have as intensive human-animal relationships as did societies of the Old World," said Andrew Somerville. "Our results suggest that citizens of the ancient city of Teotihuacan engaged in relationships with smaller and more diverse fauna, such as rabbits and jackrabbits, and that these may have been just as important as relationships with larger animals."
Source: PLOS [August 17, 2016]