Sunday, December 23, 2007

Reindeer: It's What Was For Dinner
Reindeer meat went from being an occasional treat to everyday fare among prehistoric cavemen who lived in Southwest France and what is now the Czech Republic, two new studies suggest.

In fact, so many nibbled-on reindeer bones were present in their caves that possible calendars circa 26,000 years ago might have been carved on the leftover bones. They may have also been used as counting devices or for ornamentation.

The first study, authored by J. Tyler Faith, analyzed bones found in limestone cave and rock shelters at a site called Grotte XVI at Dordogne near Bordeaux. The numbers and types of bones revealed plenty -- how, for instance, the hunters butchered the meat, how far they traveled to hunt, and details about populations of the animals themselves.

Read the whole thing, but the neat aspect is that butchery and use patterns seem to follow abundances of reindeer which itself seems to be a function of cooler temperatures which favor reindeer abundances. The correlation of specific behavior patterns with climatic variables, if it holds up, could be significant depending on how other factors are controlled for.