Late Paleolithic reindeer populations in central and western Europe


en Anthropozoologica 25-26 - Pages 383-388

Published on 01 June 1998

It has long been recognized that reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) was an important resource for late Paleolithic people over a vast geographical area, and that yearly reindeer migrations in particular were an important factor determining the seasonal movements and subsistence strategies of past human populations. With a few exceptions, however, attempts to determine the movements of the reindeer herds have been based on doubtful seasonal data (mostly antler casting) or on unjustified assumptions about the behaviour of the animals and the size of the herds. This paper tackles this problem with osteometrical data of Rangifer material from northern and southern Germany, Switzerland and France. An attempt is made to distinguish possible reindeer populations in this area. The results show a clear distinction between "northern" and "southern" reindeer, both in their size and in their degree of sexual dimorphism.

Keywords :

Reindeer, Late Palaeolithic, migrations, sexual dimorphism, body-size.

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