University of Oulu

Pelletier, M., Niinimäki, S., & Salmi, A.-K. (2021). Influence of captivity and selection on limb long bone cross-sectional morphology of reindeer. Journal of Morphology, 282( 10), 1533– 1556.

Influence of captivity and selection on limb long bone cross-sectional morphology of reindeer

Saved in:
Author: Pelletier, Maxime1; Niinimäki, Sirpa1; Salmi, Anna-Kaisa1
Organizations: 1Archaeology, History, Culture and Communication Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 4.8 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-10-19


The emergence of pastoralism and animal husbandry has been a critical point in the history of human evolution. Beyond profound behavioural changes in domesticated animals compared to wild ones, characterising the morphological changes associated with domestication process remains challenging. Because reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) can be considered to still be in the early phases of the domestication process, the study of modern populations provides a unique opportunity to examine the impact of captivity and selective breeding on skeletal changes. In this work, we investigated the morphological changes in long limb bone cross-sections using 137 wild and domestic reindeer individuals bred in free-range, in captivity or used for racing and pulling. The shape and shaft cortical thickness of the six long limb bones (i.e., humerus, radioulna, metacarpal, femur, tibia and metatarsal) were measured using a 2D-geometric morphometrics approach taking into account subspecies, sex, body mass and lifestyle differences. These bones are important to understanding functional morphological changes because they can provide information on feeding and locomotor behaviours, as well as on body propulsion and weight bearing. Apart from the effects of taxonomy, etho-ecology and sex, we have found that captivity and selection induced important variations in the size and body mass of modern reindeer. Our results also showed that patterns of variation in cortical bone thickness of long limb bone cross-sections were strongly impacted by body mass and human-imposed restrictions in roaming. This demonstrates that bone cross-sections can provide information on changes in locomotor, reproductive and feeding behaviours induced by the domestication process. These results are valuable not only for (paleo) biologists studying the impact of captivity and selection in ungulates but also for archaeologists exploring the origins of domestication and early herding strategies.

see all

Series: Journal of morphology
ISSN: 0362-2525
ISSN-E: 1097-4687
ISSN-L: 0362-2525
Volume: 282
Issue: 10
Pages: 1533 - 1556
DOI: 10.1002/jmor.21403
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
615 History and archaeology
Funding: This research received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 756431) and the Academy of Finland (project numbers 275635 and 308322).
EU Grant Number: (756431) DOMESTICATION - Domestication in Action - Tracing Archaeological Markers of Human-Animal Interaction
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 308322
Detailed Information: 308322 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2021 The Authors. Journal of Morphology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.