Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Ostrich Eggshell from the Far Eastern Steppe
This study uses stable isotope analysis on both the organic and inorganic fractions of ostrich eggshell obtained from archaeological excavations in Mongolia, northern China, and southern Siberia. By establishing the δ13Corg, δ15N, δ13Cinorg, δ18O isotopic compositions of the eggshell of the Asian ostrich (Struthio asiaticus), this study provides insight into the maximum northern range of the species, which I suggest reached Lake Baikal, Siberia through the late Pleistocene, up to the Last Glacial Maximum. Through these isotopic data, the interactions between S. asiaticus and human forager groups are explored, specifically the trade of ostrich eggshell by hunter/gatherer populations in the early/middle Holocene. Because of deviations from the correlation between δ18O and latitude observed for other sites, the site of Shabarakh-usu may have been an aggregation point for ostrich eggshell from other locations. Movement of eggshell is observable from north to south but not from south to north on the basis of eggshell δ18O. Finally, I am able to develop a hypothesis regarding the drivers of species extinction. Specifically, I discuss trade in eggshell leading up to extinction as evidence for human pressure on S. asiaticus at a time when environmental shifts likely isolated populations in small regions of habitable landscape. I therefore implicate both changing environmental conditions and human pressure in my proposed explanation for the extinction of S. asiaticus. Author Keywords: Extinction, Holocene, ostrich, Pleistocene, Steppe, Struthio

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2011 - 2021
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