PCR/DNA analysis of archaeological faunal remains from Rocky Mountain House and Morleyville (1834-1861, 1875-1896), Alberta, Canada
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AbstractTwo settlements in south central Alberta, Rocky Mountain House, a fur trade post, and Morleyville, a Methodist mission, were occupied contemporaneously and situated in close proximity in the same geographic region. Both settlements contained substantial quantities of fragmentary bone making it difficult to specifically identify the species of origin. Ancient DNA analysis was employed to determine the species of origin of a significant number of bones from both sites. It was believed that ancient DNA analysis would help clarify faunal utilization patterns at Rocky Mountain House and Morleyville. Primers were designed to amplify a 124 base pair fragment of the cytochrome b gene in ruminants. Elk, moose, bison, cow and caribou sequences were recovered from Rocky Mountain House, a fur trade post. Elk was most highly represented at approximately 65% of the sequences recovered. This contradicts the conventional wisdom that bison were the most common food source here. Cow, elk, bison, pig and mule deer sequences were recovered from Morleyville. Ancient DNA analysis allowed the separation of cow and bison remains at Morleyville, which previously had not been possible. Since unidentified bones at Rocky Mountain House were reasonably abundant, this presented an opportunity to examine predictors of DNA survival. It was expected that an association would exist between the ability to amplify DNA and the state of preservation of the bone. It was not possible to confirm this expectation.
Bibliography: p. 105-114