To the Caribbean and Beyond: Complete Mitogenomes of Ancient Guinea Pigs (Cavia porcellus) as a proxy for Interaction in the Late Ceramic Age.
Lord, Edana Jean
The late ceramic age in the Caribbean occurred from AD500 and was associated with increased interaction between the islands and mainland South America. The domestic guinea pig (Cavia porcellus) was introduced to the Caribbean post-AD500 through human transportation, along with the peccary, agouti, armadillo and opossum. The main goal of this thesis was to use guinea pigs as a commensal model to identify likely human migration routes and interaction spheres within the wider Caribbean region, using complete mitogenomes of ancient guinea pigs. Furthermore, the thesis aimed to identify the number of guinea pig introductions to the Caribbean and locate the origins of early historic European and North American guinea pigs. A total of 23 ancient and two modern complete mitogenomes were obtained. The identified haplogroups indicate that two introductions of guinea pigs to the Caribbean occurred, and that ancient Caribbean guinea pigs were most closely related to those from Peru. The first introduction occurred through previously established trade networks from coastal Colombia to Puerto Rico. A second introduction occurred post-AD1000 to the southern Lesser Antilles, likely as a result of coastal migrations through Peru and the northern coasts of Colombia and Venezuela into the Caribbean. In addition, a potential origin for European domestic guinea pigs was found to be in the Andean region encompassing southern Peru and northern Bolivia. A historic period North American guinea pig was found to have come from the Caribbean. Furthermore, it was identified that there may have been two domestication events on the mainland of South America, which contributed to the current population of domestic guinea pigs. This study is the first to use next-generation sequencing to obtain complete mitogenomes of a commensal animal to investigate prehistoric interaction in the pan-Caribbean region, and results are in agreement with current archaeological and genetic evidence for human mobility into the Caribbean.
Advisor: Matisoo-Smith, Lisa
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Anatomy
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Ancient DNA; Guinea Pigs; Caribbean Prehistory; Late Ceramic Age; Commensal Animal Model; Complete Mitochondrial Genomes
Research Type: Thesis