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Title: Exploring the human-mediated dispersal of commensal small mammals using dental morphology : Rattus exulans and Rattus rattus
Author: Hulme-Beaman, Ardern
ISNI:       0000 0004 5348 8070
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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A handful of rat species are among the most pervasive mammal species across the globe, primarily because of their close relationship with humans. The processes involved in this relationship, commensalism, are described in detail. Two rat species, Rattus rattus and Rattus exulans, are the focus of this thesis and their biology and taxonomy are described and discussed. Their modern distributions are the direct result of some of the earliest and most extensive human migration events in human history. The archaeology of the Pacific and Indian Oceans is described and migration vectors and spheres of interaction are identified. These possible patterns of human migration and exchange networks provide testable hypotheses that can be investigated using the subject rat species as proxies for long distance human movement. Modern and archaeological tooth samples of R. exulans and modern samples of R. rattus are analysed using geometric morphometrics. The results reveal important aspects of human migration and differences between these species' biology. R. exulans was likely to have been transported out of Island Southeast Asia at a very early date. Human colonisation of the Pacific occurred in a series of complex pulses and pauses that are clearly reflected in the R. exulans data. For the first time it is possible to demonstrate, within one dataset, the multiple origins and directions of colonisation across the Pacific. The R. rattus data provides a striking comparison, showing very different results that allude to a different level of modern gene-­‐ flow and therefore a difference in behaviour and biology. The results provide a framework for comparison with future archaeological material. The results presented and hypotheses raised have immediate application to existing archaeological material and areas of interest. Further commensal species should be examined following similar lines of questioning as applied here.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Polynesian rat ; Rattus rattus ; Commensalism