Series on Environmental Archaeology - Lunchtime talks

The Department of Anthropology is pleased to present A Series on Environmental Archaeology. The third of five lectures will take place over lunch on January 18th at 12:30p in Haldeman 031.

“The Effects of Climate Change on the Diet of Great Plains Paleoindians”

Erik Otárola-Castillo
Asst. Professor, Department of Anthropology
Purdue University

The Pleistocene colonization of the Americas is an exceptional context of relatively recent human forager dispersal under equally exceptional conditions of climate change. Paleoindian foragers appear to have adapted well to their new environment, roughly 13,000-years ago, seemingly developing new technology (fluted points) to procure big game to survive. The speed at which these early Paleoindians traversed the continent (500-300 years) suggests that these foragers developed a dispersal adaptation fueled by a subsistence organization not observed in modern foragers. However, scientists know very little about the effects of the environment on the subsistence strategies of Paleoindians. My research addresses this problem by reconstructing paleoenvironmental variables and bison availability on the North American Great Plains. I then test hypotheses about the effects of these variables on Paleoindian subsistence. The results of hypothesis testing provide estimates of the effect of several environmental variables on the diet diversity of Paleoindians. Moreover, the results also challenge the hypothesis that a latitudinal increase in bison abundance across the Great Plains intensified bison hunting by Paleoindians.

Lunch will be provided by Anthropology and catered by Panera.