DNA evidence of bowhead whale exploitation by Greenlandic Paleo-Inuit 4,000 years ago


It is not every day that one gets acknowledged in a Nature Communication paper. Especially when it is a paper that has been a big inspiration in my teaching at the University of Greenland and within the interesting field of eDNA.

The paper looks upon the demographic history of Greenland is characterized by recurrent migrations and extinctions since the first humans arrived 4,500 years ago. Here the current understanding of these extinct cultures relies primarily on preserved fossils found in their archaeological deposits, which hold valuable information on past subsistence practices. However, some exploited taxa, though economically important, comprise only a small fraction of these sub-fossil assemblages. In this paper Seersholm & co reconstruct a comprehensive record of past subsistence economies in Greenland by sequencing ancient DNA from four well-described midden deposits. Their interesting results confirm that the species found in the fossil record, like harp seal and ringed seal, were a vital part of Inuit subsistence, but also add a new dimension with evidence that caribou, walrus and whale species played a more prominent role for the survival of Paleo-Inuit cultures than previously reported. Most notable, they report evidence of bowhead whale exploitation by the Saqqaq culture 4,000 years ago, which for me is extremely interesting.


A small tool tradition culture has been utilizing this huge an majestic animal roaming the seas of the Arctic! It is extremly intersting and inspiring how eDNA can add a new dimension to archaeological studies as well as our understanding of past cultures and their interactions with surrounding environments

Check this fantastic paper and interesting study out on the link blow

Seersholm 2016 DNA evidence of bowhead whale exploitation by Greenlandic Paleo-Inuit 4000 years ago

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