Mediterranean precipitation isoscape preserved in bone collagen δH.

Sci Rep 2020 May 22;10(1):8579. Epub 2020 May 22.

Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA, USA.

The prehistory of the Mediterranean region has long been a subject of considerable interest, particularly the links between human groups and regions of origin. We utilize the spatial variation in the δH and δO values of precipitation (isoscapes) to develop proxies for geographic locations of fauna and humans. Bone collagen hydrogen isotope ratios (δH) in cattle (and to a lesser extent, ovicaprids) across the Mediterranean reflect the isotopic differences observed in rainfall (but δO values do not). We conclude that δH in herbivore bone collagen can be used as a geolocation tracer and for palaeoenvironmental studies such as tracing past isotopic variations in the global hydrological cycle. In contrast, human bone δH values are relatively tightly grouped and highly distinct from precipitation δH values, likely due to human-specific food practices and environmental modifications. Given the inter-species variability in δH, care should be taken in the species selected for study.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-65407-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7244594PMC
May 2020

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