University of Oulu

Niinimäki, S., Härkönen, L., Puolakka, HL. et al. Cross-sectional properties of reindeer long bones and metapodials allow identification of activity patterns. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 13, 146 (2021).

Cross-sectional properties of reindeer long bones and metapodials allow identification of activity patterns

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Author: Niinimäki, Sirpa1; Härkönen, Laura2; Puolakka, Hanna-Leena1;
Organizations: 1History, Culture and Communication Studies, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 1000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
2Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Paavo Havaksen tie 3, 90570, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-10-05


Habitual loading patterns of domesticated animals may differ due to human influence from their wild counterparts. In the early stages of human-reindeer interaction, cargo and draft use was likely important, as well as corralling tame reindeer. This may result to changes in loading as increased (working) or decreased (captive) loading, as well as foraging patterns (digging for lichen from under the snow versus fed working and/or captive reindeer). Our aim is to study whether differences in activity modify variation in bone cross-sectional properties and external dimensions. Our material consists of donated skeletons of modern reindeer: 20 working reindeer (19 racing and one draft), 24 zoo reindeer, and sample of 78 free-ranging/wild reindeer as a reference group. We used general linear modelling to first establish the total variation in cross-sectional properties among wild and free-ranging reindeer, and then to infer how differences in loading modify observed variation among zoo and working reindeer. According to our results, direction of greater bone quantity as well as external dimensions in of radioulna of female reindeer differs from female reference group, likely relating to foraging behavior. External dimensions of humerus differ in working and zoo male reindeer compared to male reference group. Increased robusticity of long bones, especially of tibia among working male reindeer, may indicate increased loading, and increased cortical area of long bones may indicate sedentary lifestyle among female reindeer. The results of this study can be used to understand early stages of reindeer domestication by observing reindeer activity patterns from archaeological material.

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Series: Archaeological and anthropological sciences
ISSN: 1866-9557
ISSN-E: 1866-9565
ISSN-L: 1866-9557
Volume: 13
Issue: 9
Article number: 146
DOI: 10.1007/s12520-021-01337-w
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital. This research was funded by the European Research Council (ERC Advanced Grant 295458; ERC Starting Grant 756431 for Anna-Kaisa Salmi as principal investigator) and the Academy of Finland (Grant 285774; Project 308322 for Anna-Kaisa Salmi as principal investigator).
EU Grant Number: (756431) DOMESTICATION - Domestication in Action - Tracing Archaeological Markers of Human-Animal Interaction
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 285774
Detailed Information: 285774 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
308322 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
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