Stone Age humans brought deer to Scottish islands by sea: study
Stone Age humans populated the Scottish islands with red deer transported "considerable distances" by boat, said researchers Wednesday who admitted surprise at our prehistoric ancestors' seafaring prowess.
DNA analysis revealed that deer on Scotland's northermost islands were unlikely to have come from the closest and seemingly most obvious places—mainland Scotland, Ireland or Norway, said a study in the Royal Society journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
"Our results imply that Neolithic humans were transporting deer considerable distances, by sea, from an unknown source" some 4,500-5,500 years ago, co-author David Stanton of Cardiff University told AFP by email.
"These results are surprising... The evidence suggests that we have misunderstood our relationship with this species," he added.
"Perhaps humans managed deer, having long-term relationships with herds that allowed them to plan, capture and transport deer on longer voyages."
It was known that late Stone Age humans had transported cattle, sheep and pigs by boat, but not large wild animals, and not over such vast distances.