Monday 11 April 2016

Ancient humans introduced deer to Scotland, study finds

APRIL 7, 2016

by Brett Smith

A new study has found the red deer currently living in a remote part of Scotland were actually brought there by Stone Age settlers.

Published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal, the new study is based on a DNA analysis that found deer living on islands north of the Scottish mainland did not come from Scotland, Ireland or Norway.

"Our results imply that Neolithic humans were transporting deer considerable distances, by sea, from an unknown source" around 5,000 years ago, study author David Stanton of Cardiff University told the AFP.

"These results are surprising... The evidence suggests that we have misunderstood our relationship with this species," he added. "Perhaps humans managed deer, having long-term relationships with herds that allowed them to plan, capture and transport deer on longer voyages."

Ancient humans moving animals
Researchers have known late Stone Age humans had moved cattle, sheep, and pigs by boat, but not larger wild animals, and not over such great distances.

Stanton said red deer were key to life in Britain from the end of the last Ice Age approximately 11,000 years ago to the appearance of the first Stone Age farmers. The animals supplied food, skins, sinew, bones and antlers, which had many uses like soil tilling.

Researchers have posited that all animals, including deer, discovered on the islands today must have been introduced by seafaring people.

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