Advertisement

Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 717–722 | Cite as

Radiocarbon evidence for a prehistoric deliberate translocation: the weasel (Mustela nivalis) of Mallorca

  • Alejandro Valenzuela
  • Josep Antoni Alcover
Invasion Note

Abstract

We present radiocarbon evidence for the presence of the weasel (Mustela nivalis) on Mallorca prior to the Roman colonization of the Balearics. Bone collagen from a single specimen recovered at Cova del Ninot, Mallorca rendered two radiocarbon ages, independently obtained at two laboratories (2σ interval: 386–206 cal BC). These dates indicate that the translocation of the weasel to Mallorca occurred in Late Prehistory. The inhabitants of Mallorca at that time were the Talaiotic people (Iron Age settlers of the Balearics). The weasel appears to have been introduced by Talaiotic mercenaries returning to the island on Carthaginian ships. This is the first documented case of the translocation of a wild carnivorous mammal to the Gymnesic Islands (i.e., Mallorca and Menorca) in prehistoric times. Some ecological consequences of this invasion are outlined.

Keywords

Mustela nivalis Mustelidae Mallorca Western Mediterranean Faunal translocation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This paper is included in the Research Project CGL2010-17889 of the Dirección General de Investigación, Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología (Madrid). We acknowledge the help of Dr. Christopher Bronk Ramsey and Dr. Thomas Higham (Oxford) as well as Mr. Mathieu Boudin and Dr. Mark van Strydonck (Brussels) who provided valuable supplementary information on different radiocarbon ages. We also thank Maria Soledad Gogorza for her assistance with the manuscript review. Hannah Bonner revised the English text. One of the authors (A.V.) has a JAE-Predoc fellowship from the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas of the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia of Spain.

References

  1. Alcover JA (1979) Els mamífers de les Illes Balears. Editorial Moll, Palma de MallorcaGoogle Scholar
  2. Alcover JA (2008) The first mallorcans: prehistoric colonization in the Western Mediterranean. J World Prehist 21:19–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alcover JA (2010) Introduccions de mamífers a les Balears: L’establiment d’un nou ordre. In: Álvarez C (ed) Seminari sobre espècies introduïdes i invasores a les Illes Balears. Govern de les Illes Balears, Sóller, pp 175–186Google Scholar
  4. Alcover JA, Moyà-Solà S, Pons-Moyà J (1981) Les Quimeres del passat. Els vertebrats fossils del Plio-Quaternari de les Balears i Pitiüses. Editorial Moll, PalmaGoogle Scholar
  5. Alcover JA, Ramis D, Coll J, Trias M (2001) Bases per al coneixement del contacte entre els primers colonitzadors humans i la naturalesa de les Balears. Endins 24:5–57Google Scholar
  6. Álvarez CM, Mayol J (2007) El coatí Nasua nasua (L. 1766), especie invasora naturalizada en Mallorca. In: Resúmenes VIII Jornadas de la SECEM, Huelva, pp 7Google Scholar
  7. Anderson A (1991) The chronology of colonization in New Zealand. Antiquity 65:767–795Google Scholar
  8. Barrett JH, Beukens RP, Brothwell DR (2000) Radiocarbon dating and marine reservoir correction of Viking age Christian burials from Orkney. Antiquity 74:537–543Google Scholar
  9. Bover P, Alcover JA (2003) Understanding late quaternary extinctions: the case of Myotragus balearicus (Bate 1909). J Biogeogr 30:771–781CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bover P, Alcover JA (2008) Extinction of the autochthonous small mammals of Mallorca (Gymnesic Islands, Western Mediterranean) and its ecological consequences. J Biogeogr 35:1112–1122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bronk Ramsey C (1995) Radiocarbon calibration and analysis of stratigraphy: the oxcal program. Radiocarbon 37:425–430Google Scholar
  12. Bronk Ramsey C (2010) OxCal Program v4.1. Available at https://c14.arch.ox.ac.uk/login/login.php?Location=/oxcal/OxCal.html
  13. Bruins HJ, van der Plicht J (2001) Radiocarbon challenges archaeo-historical time frameworks in the Near East: the Early Bronze Age of Jericho in relation to Egypt. Radiocarbon 43:1321–1332Google Scholar
  14. Chisholm BS, Nelson DE, Schwarcz HP (1982) Stable-carbon isotope ratios as a measure of marine versus terrestrial protein in ancient diets. Science 216:1131–1132PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Corbet GB (1978) The mammals of the palaearctic region: a taxonomic review. Cornell University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Day MG (1968) Food habits of british stoats (Mustela erminea) and weasels (Mustela nivalis). J Zool 155:485–497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. De Vos A, Manville RH, Van Gelder RG (1956) Introduced mammals and their influence on native biota. Zoologica 41:163–194Google Scholar
  18. Erlinge S (1975) Feeding habits of the weasel Mustela nivalis in relation to prey abundance. Oikos 26:378–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gómez Bellard C (1993) Relaciones comerciales en las islas Baleares entre los siglos VII y II aC. Cuadernos de Arqueología Mediterránea 2:159–174Google Scholar
  20. Guerrero VM (1999) Cerámica a torno en la protohistoria de Mallorca (s. VI-I aC). BAR International Series, 770. OxfordGoogle Scholar
  21. Hernández-Gasch J, Nadal J, Malgosa A, Alesán A, Juan J (2002) Economic strategies and limited resources in the Balearic insular ecosystem: the myth of an indigenous animal farming society in the First Millennium BC. In: Waldren WH, Ensenyat JA (eds) World Islands in Prehistory. International Insular Investigations. BAR International Series, 1095. Oxford, pp 275–291Google Scholar
  22. Hobson KA, Collier S (1984) Marine and terrestrial protein in Australian Aboriginal diets. Current Anthropology 25:238–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Johnson C (2006) Australia’s mammal extinctions: a 50,000 year history. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  24. King CM (1980) Population biology of the weasel Mustela nivalis on British game estates. Holarctic Ecol 3:160–168Google Scholar
  25. King CM (1991) Weasels. In: Corbet GB, Harris S (eds) The handbook of British mammals. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, pp 387–396Google Scholar
  26. Lebarbenchon C, Poitevin F et al (2010) Phylogeography of the weasel (Mustela nivalis) in the western-palaearctic region: combined effects of glacial events and human movements. Heredity 105:449–462PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Longin R (1971) New method of collagen extraction for radiocarbon dating. Nature 230:241–242PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McDonald DW, Tew TE, Todd IA (2004) The ecology of weasels (Mustela nivalis) on mixed farmland in southern England. Biologia Bratislava 59:235–241Google Scholar
  29. Micó R (2006) Radiocarbon dating and balearic prehistory: reviewing the periodization of the prehistoric sequence. Radiocarbon 48:421–434Google Scholar
  30. Moore RD, Griffiths RA, Roman A (2004) Distribution of the Mallorcan midwife toad (Alytes muletensis) in relation to landscape topography and introduced predators. Biol Conserv 116:327–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Morales A (1994) Earliest genets in europe. Nature 370:512–513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Morales JV (2007) Estudi zooarqueològic dels jaciments talaiòtics de Biniparratx Petit i Talatí de Dalt (Menorca). Dissertation, Universitat de ValènciaGoogle Scholar
  33. Pinya S, Perelló E, Álvarez C (2009) Sobre la presencia del mapache Procyonlotor (Linnaeus 1758) en la isla de Mallorca. Galemys 21:61–64Google Scholar
  34. Ramis D, Alcover JA, Coll J, Trias M (2002) The chronology of the first settlement of the Balearic Islands. J Mediterr Archaeol 15:3–24Google Scholar
  35. Ramon J (1991) Las ánforas púnicas de Ibiza. Trabajos del Museo Arqueológico de Ibiza 23, EivissaGoogle Scholar
  36. Reimer PJ, Baillie MGL, Bard E et al (2009) Intcal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 51:1111–1150Google Scholar
  37. Rihuete C (2003) Bio-arqueología de las prácticas funerarias. Análisis de la comunidad enterrada en el cementerio de la Cova des Càrritx (Ciutadella, Menorca), ca. 1450–800 cal ANE, BAR International Series 1161, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  38. Sanders EAC (1980) The animals found in the cave of Son Boronat (Mallorca) and some preliminary notes on possible changes in the subrecent rodent populations of Mallorca. Bol Soc Arq Lul·liana 37:51–58Google Scholar
  39. Sanders EAC, Reumer JWF (1984) The influence of prehistoric and Roman migrations on the vertebrate fauna of Menorca (Spain). In: Waldren WH, Chapman R, Lewthwaite J, Kennard R (eds) The Deya conference of prehistory: early settlement in the Western Mediterranean Islands and their peripheral areas. BAR International Series 229, Oxford, pp 119–144Google Scholar
  40. Schoeninger MJ (1985) Trophic level effects on 15 N/14 N and 13C/12C ratios in bone collagen and strontium levels in bone mineral. J Hum Evol 14:515–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schoeninger MJ, De Niro MJ (1984) Nitrogen and carbon isotopic composition of bone collagen from marine and terrestrial animals. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 48:625–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tapper S (1979) The efect of fluctuating vole numbers (Microtus agrestis) on a population of weasels (Mustela nivalis) on farmland. J Anim Ecol 48:603–617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tonge S (1986) Collecting the mallorcan midwife toad. Oryx 20:4–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Van Strydonck M, Boudin M, Ervynck A (2002) Stable isotopes (13C and 15 N) and diet: animal and human bone collagen from prehistoric sites on Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera (Balearic Islands, Spain). In: Waldren WH, Ensenyat JA (eds) World Islands in Prehistory. International Insular Investigations, BAR International Series 1095, Oxford, pp 189–197Google Scholar
  45. Van Strydonck M, Boudin M, Ervynck A, Orvay J, Borms H (2005) Spatial and temporal variation of dietary habits during the prehistory of the Balearic Islands as reflected by 14C, d15 N and d13C analyses on human and animal bones. Mayurqa 30:523–541Google Scholar
  46. Worthy TH, Holdaway RN (2002) The lost world of the Moa: prehistoric life of New Zealand. Indiana University Press, IndianaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departament de Biodiversitat i ConservacióInstitut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats (IMEDEA-CSIC)EsporlesMallorca
  2. 2.Division of Vertebrate Zoology/MammalogyAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations