Mobility in pigs: A microanatomical perspective
Can growth in captivity alter the calcaneal microanatomy of a wild ungulate?
Recommendation: posted 16 November 2022, validated 12 December 2022
Marom, N. (2022) Mobility in pigs: A microanatomical perspective. Peer Community in Archaeology, 100023. https://doi.org/10.24072/pci.archaeo.100023
Pig domestication and husbandry involved complex processes of introduction, introgression, and feralization that challenge our understanding of human/suid interactions in ancient times. This challenge is a constant stimulus for the development of novel methods and techniques to illuminate aspects of early pig husbandry, such as human-induced changes in mobility. Using geometric morphometrics, Harbers et al. (2020) have shown that the calcaneus records a plastic response to reduced mobility and hence to human management. In the present study, Cottereau et al. (2022) explore the possibility that a similar plastic response to different mobility regimes can be observed in the microanatomy of the calcaneus using CT scans. Their research utilizes a sample of calcanei obtained from Mesolithic specimens, and also from recent suids kept in natural habitat, large pen, and stall. Their results suggest that bone microanatomy is more affected by population differences than by mobility patterns, as illustrated by the similarity between Mesolitic boar calcanei and their difference from recent, free wild boar.
This is an important negative result, and, as Max Price has remarked in his review, such results are biased against in the scientific literature. Beyond the merit of its careful planning and execution, I find the study thought-provoking, as it marks a scale threshold below which the plastic signal of mobility is lost. At the same breath, the close similarity between Mesolithic boars in the microanatomical scale opens a door to the investigation of inter-population anatomical differences beyond that threshold.
Cottereau R, Ortiz K, Locatelli Y, Houssaye A, Cucchi T (2022), bioRxiv, 504790, ver. 5 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Archaeology. https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.08.22.504790
Harbers H, Neaux D, Ortiz K, Blanc B, Laurens F, Baly I, Callou C, Schafberg R, Haruda A, Lecompte F, Casabianca F, Studer J, Renaud S, Cornette R, Locatelli Y, Vigne J-D, Herrel A, Cucchi T (2020) The mark of captivity: plastic responses in the ankle bone of a wild ungulate (Sus scrofa). Royal Society Open Science, 7, 192039. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.192039
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article. The authors declared that they comply with the PCI rule of having no financial conflicts of interest in relation to the content of the article.
Evaluation round #1
DOI or URL of the preprint: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.08.22.504790
Author's Reply, 16 Nov 2022
Decision by Nimrod Marom, posted 06 Oct 2022
Dear M. Cottereau,
Your preprint entitled: "Can growth in captivity alter the calcaneal microanatomy of a wild ungulate?" has now been reviewed by two referees, who are unanimous in their opinion that it should be recommended by PCI Archaeology. Both reviewers, however, noted points that should be elaborated or corrected before recommendation.
I join the reviewers in their opinion on the quality of the preprint, the rigour of the research design, and the robust data analysis. The preprint, however, will have to be revised in view of their comments before it is recommended. I also attach two short comments/questions of my own.
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