University of Oulu

Galán López AB, Pelletier M, Discamps E (2023) Reconstructing past migratory behaviour of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus): Insights from geometric morphometric analysis of proximal phalanx morphology from extant caribou populations. PLoS ONE 18(8): e0285487.

Reconstructing past migratory behaviour of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) : insights from geometric morphometric analysis of proximal phalanx morphology from extant caribou populations

Saved in:
Author: López, Ana Belén Galán1; Pelletier, Maxime2; Discamps, Emmanuel1
Organizations: 1TRACES UMR 5608, CNRS-Université de Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, Toulouse, France
2Archaeology, History, Culture and Communication Studies, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.5 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Public Library of Science, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-10


Reindeer mobility patterns vary widely in modern ecosystems, notably between more open or more wooded environments. This renders the reconstruction of past reindeer mobility patterns challenging, while being at the same time key if archaeologists want to better understand the role that reindeer herds played in the subsistence and territorial organisation of Prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies. Studying the morphology associated with different habitats and mobility patterns can be a useful method for understanding past reindeer behaviour. To access paleoecological information, the relationship between locomotor anatomy and substrate type can be explored in modern animals and transposed to the past, as previous studies have proven that an animal’s environment affects bone morphology. In this study, 3D Geometric Morphometrics are used to explore the impact of extant reindeer habitat type and mobility pattern on phalanx morphology. Results obtained reflects on the potential archaeological application of such an approach for paleoecological reconstructions. Size and shape of phalanx vary significantly, yet complex to interpret in light of interplaying factors such as subspecies, sexual dimorphism and the influence of migration costs, snow cover and substrate type. If direct application to the archaeological record remains preliminary, this first study permits to highlight promising avenues for future research.

see all

Series: PLoS one
ISSN: 1932-6203
ISSN-E: 1932-6203
ISSN-L: 1932-6203
Volume: 18
Issue: 8
Article number: e0285487
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0285487
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Funding: This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program (Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions, Grant Agreement n° 794925) and DeerPal (French National Research Agency, ANR-18-CE03-0007). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Copyright information: © 2023 Galán López et al. 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 author and source are credited.