Stable isotope analysis of dog, fox, and human diets at a Late Holocene Chumash village (CA-SRI-2) on Santa Rosa Island, California

Torben C. Rick, Brendan J. Culleton, Carley B. Smith, John R. Johnson, Douglas J. Kennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope analyses of dog (Canis familiaris), island fox (Urocyon littoralis), and human bone collagen from CA-SRI-2 (AD 130-1830) on Santa Rosa Island, California provide a proxy of diet and the relationships between humans and these animals. Carbon isotopic signatures indicate that Native Americans and their dogs at CA-SRI-2 subsisted almost exclusively on marine resources, while the island fox ate primarily terrestrial foods. Nitrogen isotopes and archaeofaunal remains indicate that humans and dogs also ate higher trophic level foods, including finfishes, marine mammals, and seabirds with smaller amounts of shellfish. The CA-SRI-2 island foxes appear to have eaten higher amounts of terrestrial foods, similar to the diets observed in modern fox populations. These data generally confirm the commensal relationship assumed to exist between domesticated dogs and people, but the carbon isotopic composition of dogs is enriched ∼2‰ compared to humans. We hypothesize that the difference in carbon isotopes between dogs and humans may have resulted from a higher consumption of C3 plants with lower δ13C values by humans, or less likely from the ingestion by dogs of significant amounts of bone collagen, which is enriched by ∼4‰ over associated muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1385-1393
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume38
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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