Ancient Teotihuacan Residents May Have Raised Rabbits

Posted on August 23, 2016

Drawing of Teotihuacan leporid sculpture

Researchers say humans living in the pre-Hispanic Mexican city of Teotihuacan may have bred rabbits and hares. These animals would have been raised for food, fur and tools made from their bones. The city existed northeast of what is now Mexico City from A.D. 1-600. The image above is an illustration of the leporid (rabbit family) sculpture from the Oztoyahualco compound of Teotihuacan.

The researchers performed stable carbon and oxygen isotope analysis of 134 rabbit and hare bone specimens from the ancient city and 13 modern wild specimens from central Mexico. They then compared their potential diets and ecology. The researchers found the Teotihuacan rabbit and hare specimens had carbon isotope values indicating higher levels of human-farmed crops, such as maize, in their diet.

Andrew Somerville, from the University of California San Diego, US says in a statement, "Because no large mammals such as goats, cows, or horses were available for domestication in pre-Hispanic Mexico, many assume that Native Americans did not have as intensive human-animal relationships as did societies of the Old World. Our results suggest that citizens of the ancient city of Teotihuacan engaged in relationships with smaller and more diverse fauna, such as rabbits and jackrabbits, and that these may have been just as important as relationships with larger animals."

A research paper on the findings was published here in the journal, PLOS One.

Image: F. Botas

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