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Analysis of plant microfossils in prehistoric coprolites from Harataonga Bay, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

by admin last modified 2008-03-25 01:55 PM

Horrocks M, Jones MD, Beever RE, Sutton DG. 2002. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 32, 617-628.


We show results of palynological and phytolith analysis of coprolites from Harataonga Bay, Great Barrier Island. Because human and dog diets may overlap considerably, the microfossil evidence does not with certainty indicate which of these two species deposited them. The coprolites are at least 467 ± 60 14C years old and give insights into prehistoric Maori agriculture, gathering of wild plants, diet, and time of year of site occupation. Gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) pollen found in the coprolites shows that this exotic cultigen was being cultivated in the area at the time. The presence of this taxon together with putative truffle spores in the coprolites suggests subsistence components involving both plant domestication and the gathering of wild plants.


Coprolites, palynology, phytoliths, gourd (Lagenaria siceraria),truffles, New Zealand.

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