Micromammals from an early Holocene archaeological site in southwest China: Paleoenvironmental and taphonomic perspectives

Jennie J.H. Jin, Nina G. Jablonski, Lawrence J. Flynn, George Chaplin, Ji Xueping, Li Zhicai, Shi Xiaoxue, Li Guihua

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9 Scopus citations


Investigations of the well-known paleontological and archaeological site of Tangzigou in western Yunnan Province in 2003 and 2006 yielded plentiful mammalian remains and a large number of stone and bone artifacts. Among the mammalian remains were those of many micromammals representing modern taxa of Scandentia, Insectivora, and Rodentia. The micromammal assemblage is dominated by rodents, which constitute 92% of the total number of identifiable elements. Murids are the most common elements, followed by rhizomyids, sciurids, and hystricids. The Tangzigou deposits appear to have been created over a period of 200-300 years in the early to middle Holocene, judging from the tight cluster of AMS radiocarbon dates between 9000 and 8745 BP. Based on the known habitat preferences of the living species, most of the Tangzigou micromammals were arboreal or dwellers of the forest floor. The micromammal assemblage thus indicates that subtropical forest including bamboo dominated the environment around Tangzigou. The assemblage is remarkable for the near absence of very small micromammal species such as small mice. This bias appears to have been introduced by humans who collected the larger-bodied species of micromammals for food. This interpretation is supported by the presence of a large number of burned elements, especially dentaries. The analysis of the larger mammals also showed that Tangzigou was a place where prehistoric people gathered to butcher the hunted/scavenged animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-65
Number of pages8
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - Dec 19 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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