University of Oulu

Maxime Pelletier, Antti Kotiaho, Sirpa Niinimäki & Anna-Kaisa Salmi (2022) Impact of selection and domestication on hindlimb bones of modern reindeer populations: Archaeological implications for early reindeer management by Sámi in Fennoscandia, Historical Biology, 34:5, 802-820, DOI: 10.1080/08912963.2021.1947268

Impact of selection and domestication on hindlimb bones of modern reindeer populations : archaeological implications for early reindeer management by Sámi in Fennoscandia

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Author: Pelletier, Maxime1; Kotiaho, Antti2; Niinimäki, Sirpa1;
Organizations: 1Archaeology, History, Culture and Communication Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Radiology, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 11.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-03-09


For centuries, reindeer herding has been an integral part of the subsistence and culture among the Sámi of northern Fennoscandia. Despite the importance of this husbandry in their history, the timing and details of early reindeer domestication are still highly debated. Indeed, identifying domesticated individuals in the archaeological record remains complicated because reindeer are still considered to be in the early phases of the domestication process. In this work, we propose solutions for identifying domestic individuals using 3D geometric morphometrics on isolated elements from the long bones of the hindlimb in modern reindeer populations. These bones are important for understanding both the mobility of reindeer and the effect of load carrying or draught. A good level of distinction between the size and shape variables of these bones was found among subspecies, sex and lifestyles. This demonstrates that the long bones of the hindlimb can provide information on changes in locomotor behaviour induced by the domestication process, such as control and reduction of reindeer mobility by humans. This also demonstrates that analysis in geometric morphometrics is useful for exploring the use of draught reindeer in early Sámi reindeer herding and the implications for understanding reindeer domestication and early reindeer herding strategies.

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Series: Historical biology
ISSN: 0891-2963
ISSN-E: 1029-2381
ISSN-L: 0891-2963
Volume: 34
Issue: 5
Pages: 802 - 820
DOI: 10.1080/08912963.2021.1947268
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
615 History and archaeology
Funding: This research has 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 Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.