Prehistoric Micromammal Consumption on Impoverished Islands

Marian C. Reyes1, Thomas Ingicco2, Philip Piper3, Clara Boulanger4, Alfred Pawlik5

1Archaeology Division, National Museum of the Philippines, Philippines

2Histoire naturelle de l’Homme préhistorique, France

3School of Archaeology and Anthropology, College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University, Australia

4Minpaku National Museum of Ethnology, Department of Modern Society and Civilization, Japan

5Department of Sociology and Anthropology, School of Social Sciences, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines

Subsistence strategies on islands rely heavily on available marine and terrestrial resources. Food sources from the land’s flora and fauna complement those gathered from shore to the deep sea using hunting, trapping, seafaring skills and technology, and knowledge of the environment. On impoverished islands where large game may not always be accessible, smaller fauna may potentially be exploited as viable sources of protein. Archaeological excavations of the prehistoric shell midden sites in Ilin Island, Mindoro, Philippines, produced a multitude of materials revealing subsistence strategies adapted to the changing landscape and seascape during the Terminal Pleistocene to Holocene. Among the faunal remains recovered was a relatively rich and highly endemic assemblage of micromammal remains of rodents, bats and shrews. The island-endemic and now-extinct arboreal giant rat, Crateromys paulus, was noted in abundance within the archaeological record. This paper will present findings from Bubog I rockshelter of the  dense murid accumulations and their dominance across cultural layers. The presence of burning and cutmarks suggest that some of these micromammals were consumed by island settlers.