We analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from ancient marmot teeth (∼7550–6800 cal. BP), which were recovered during archaeological excavations of two contemporary cemeteries near Lake Baikal, Russia: one archaeological site is the Shamanka II cemetery located on the southwest shoreline of Lake Baikal, and the other is the Lokomotiv-Raisovet cemetery located about 77 km to northwest and within the modern city of Irkutsk. Although the teeth had not been identified to species based on their morphology, our ancient DNA analysis revealed that all incisors from ten individuals were of the tarbagan marmot (Marmota sibirica), which is currently not distributed around those archaeological sites. In contrast, the black-capped marmot (Marmota camtschatica), which also has a dominant distribution in Eastern Siberia and whose incisors are morphologically similar to M. sibirica, was not identified from our ancient tooth samples. In addition, the mtDNA sequence variation showed that the genealogy of marmots in the Shamanka II cemetery could have been different from that of the Lokomotiv-Raisovet cemetery. These data indicate that the ancient people at the Shamanka II cemetery could have used M. sibirica from different regions than those utilized at the Lokomotiv-Raisovet site. This suggests non-overlapping marmot hunting ranges for the people buried at the two Middle Holocene cemeteries.
- ancient DNA
- Marmota sibirica
- mitochondrial DNA
Masuda, R., Losey, R. J., Bazaliiskii, V. I., & Badmaev, B. (2016). Ancient DNA analysis of marmot tooth remains from the Shamanka II and Locomotiv-Raisovet cemeteries near Lake Baikal: species identification and genealogical characteristics. Quaternary International, 419, 133-139. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.03.050