Investigating the impact of captivity and domestication on limb bone cortical morphology: an experimental approach using a wild boar model

Hugo Harbers*, Clement Zanolli, Marine Cazenave, Jean Christophe Theil, Katia Ortiz, Barbara Blanc, Yann Locatelli, Renate Schafberg, Francois Lecompte, Isabelle Baly, Flavie Laurens, Cécile Callou, Anthony Herrel, Laurent Puymerail, Thomas Cucchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The lack of bone morphological markers associated with the human control of wild animals has prevented the documentation of incipient animal domestication in archaeology. Here, we assess whether direct environmental changes (i.e. mobility reduction) could immediately affect ontogenetic changes in long bone structure, providing a skeletal marker of early domestication. We relied on a wild boar experimental model, analysing 24 wild-born specimens raised in captivity from 6 months to 2 years old. The shaft cortical thickness of their humerus was measured using a 3D morphometric mapping approach and compared with 23 free-ranging wild boars and 22 pigs from different breeds, taking into account sex, mass and muscle force differences. In wild boars we found that captivity induced an increase in cortical bone volume and muscle force, and a topographic change of cortical thickness associated with muscular expression along a phenotypic trajectory that differed from the divergence induced by selective breeding. These results provide an experimental proof of concept that changes in locomotor behaviour and selective breeding might be inferred from long bones morphology in the fossil and archaeological record. These trends need to be explored in the archaeological record and further studies are required to explore the developmental changes behind these plastic responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19070
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

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