Revista chilena de historia natural
Print version ISSN 0716-078X
SIMEONE, ALEJANDRO and NAVARRO, XIMENA. Human exploitation of seabirds in coastal southern Chile during the mid-Holocene. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2002, vol.75, n.2, pp. 423-431. ISSN 0716-078X. doi: 10.4067/S0716-078X2002000200012.
We analyzed a collection of 738 bird bones, representing a minimum of 71 individuals, found in a settlement of hunter-gatherers from the mid-Holocene, 5,000 years BP, in the coastal locality of Chan Chan, southern Chile. The camp was inhabited for over ca. 500 years, during which time a steady hunting pressure on the local marine resources was exerted, particularly on seabirds. The most abundant taxon (bones/number of individuals) was the red-legged cormorant Phalacrocorax gaimardi (551/44) which was also the prey which provided the highest edible proportion of body mass. Albatrosses Thalassarche cf. melanophris (103/12) and shearwaters Puffinus cf. griseus (20/5) were secondary prey. Cormorants were presumably hunted at their breeding colonies (which are still present in the area) so it is probable that egging also occurred. Because they are pelagic, albatrosses could have been hunted at sea, but the adequate technology for this (boats, hooks) is not apparent in the archaeological record. The bird assemblage obtained in the sample does not qualitatively differ from that of the present, indicating a reasonable stability in species richness from the considered period until the present. The high diversity of coastal resources in Chan Chan was likely important in leading to the, at least seasonal, occupation of these areas by hunter-gatherers and also may have encouraged the development of the adequate technology for the exploitation of these resources
Keywords : zooarchaeology; hunter-gatherers; Holocene; seabirds; Phalacrocorax; Chile.