University of Oulu

van den Berg, M, Loonen, MJJE, Çakırlar, C. Judging a reindeer by its teeth: A user-friendly tooth wear and eruption pattern recording scheme to estimate age-at-death in reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). Int J Osteoarchaeol. 2021; 31: 417– 428.

Judging a reindeer by its teeth : a user-friendly tooth wear and eruption pattern recording scheme to estimate age-at-death in reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)

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Author: van den Berg, Mathilde1,2; Loonen, Maarten J. J. E.3; Çakırlar, Canan1
Organizations: 1Groningen Institute of Archaeology, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
2Department of Archaeology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Groningen Institute of Archaeology, Arctic Centre, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 36.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-06-30


Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) have shaped the cultures and provided livelihood to peoples of the Northern Hemisphere for thousands of years. They are still the socio-economic cornerstone of many northern cultures. Insight into reindeer mortality patterns is important for understanding past human–reindeer interactions and reindeer population fluctuations in relation to climatic and environmental change. Beyond archaeology, assessing the age structures of modern reindeer populations is important for developing wildlife management strategies. This paper presents a quick, non-destructive and cheap method to estimate age in reindeer in both modern and ancient populations based on tooth wear and eruption patterns of mandibular teeth. We devised the method using a large sample of Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus) of known age. We blind-tested the method and tested its applicability on another known-age Svalbard reindeer mandible assemblage. The tests demonstrate our methods' user-friendliness and reliability to generate reproducible, reusable datasets and accuracy in estimating reindeer age-at-death.

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Series: International journal of osteoarchaeology
ISSN: 1047-482X
ISSN-E: 1099-1212
ISSN-L: 1047-482X
Volume: 31
Issue: 3
Pages: 417 - 428
DOI: 10.1002/oa.2961
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
616 Other humanities
Funding: Academy of Finland, Grant/Award Number: Project 308322; European Research Council, Grant/Award Number: Starting Grant 756431; University of Groningen Faculty of Arts; Domestication in Action project: Tracing Archaeological Markers of Human-Animal Interaction supported by the Academy of Finland, Grant/Award Number: 308322; Dutch Archaeological Research School ARCHON, Grant/Award Number: 2018; Catharine van Tussenbroek Foundation.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 308322
Detailed Information: 308322 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2021 The Authors. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.