New evidence of megafaunal bone damage indicates late colonization of Madagascar

Atholl Anderson, Geoffrey Clark, Simon Haberle, Tom Higham, Malgosia-Nowak Kemp, Amy Prendergast, Chantal Radimilahy, Lucien M. Rakotozafy, Ramilisonina, Jean-Luc Schwenninger, Malika Virah-Sawmy, Aaron Camens

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The estimated period in which human colonization of Madagascar began has expanded recently to 5000-1000 y B.P., six times its range in 1990, prompting revised thinking about early migration sources, routes, maritime capability and environmental changes. Cited evidence of colonization age includes anthropogenic palaeoecological data 2500-2000 y B.P., megafaunal butchery marks 4200-1900 y B.P. and OSL dating to 4400 y B.P. of the Lakaton'i Anja occupation site. Using large samples of newly-excavated bone from sites in which megafaunal butchery was earlier dated >2000 y B.P. we find no butchery marks until ∼1200 y B.P., with associated sedimentary and palynological data of initial human impact about the same time. Close analysis of the Lakaton'i Anja chronology suggests the site dates <1500 y B.P. Diverse evidence from bone damage, palaeoecology, genomic and linguistic history, archaeology, introduced biota and seafaring capability indicate initial human colonization of Madagascar 1350-1100 y B.P.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0204368
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • Madagascar
  • colonization
  • megafaunal


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