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Cave art, art and geometric morphometrics: Shape changes and the babirusa of Sulawesi

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Abstract


  • There is considerable evidence that the babirusa of Sulawesi and its neighbouring islands has

    long attracted human attention. This is probably in part due to the male babirusa appearing as

    a bizarre compound of two familiar ungulates (babi = ‘pig’, rusa = ‘deer’) in that the male’s upper

    canines resemble deer antlers. In October 2014, Aubert et al. announced in Nature that a cave

    art depiction in Leang Timpuseng, Maros, interpreted by the authors to depict a female babirusa,

    was created at least 35,400 years ago and is therefore of comparable antiquity to the oldest

    recorded Late Pleistocene cave art of Europe. Using geometric morphometrics, we compare the

    Leang Timpuseng cave art to profile photographs and illustrations depicting the babirusa and the

    endemic Sulawesi warty pig, including historical illustrations produced by Europeans during the

    period ~AD 1740–1860. Our analysis indicates that geometric morphometrics can be applied

    to meaningfully analyse naturalistic cave art. However, because of the relatively small sample

    size and that the male babirusa dominates both historical and contemporary illustrations, the

    results are only indicative. These are that the Leang Timpuseng cave art is more likely to be

    depicting a female, and that this depiction differs markedly from historical and contemporary

    illustrations in that it shows a morphologically female suid as independently active. With regards

    to which animal is depicted, the results suggest the Leang Timpuseng cave art is possibly either

    an illustration of a female hairy/golden babirusa, which has not yet been proven to have a range

    extending to Sulawesi, or the extinct Babyrousa bolabatuensis, which is part of the existing

    Sulawesi fossil record and has been noted to be similar in tooth size to the hairy/golden babirusa.

Publication Date


  • 2018

Citation


  • Hayes, S. & van den Bergh, G. (2018). Cave art, art and geometric morphometrics: Shape changes and the babirusa of Sulawesi. In S. O'Connor, D. Bulbeck & J. Meyer (Eds.), The Archaeology of Sulawesi: Current Research on the Pleistocene to the Historic Period (pp. 43-59). Acton, Australia: ANU Press.

International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13


  • 9781760462567

Ro Full-text Url


  • https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1378&context=smhpapers1

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers1/371

Book Title


  • The Archaeology of Sulawesi: Current Research on the Pleistocene to the Historic Period

Start Page


  • 43

End Page


  • 59

Place Of Publication


  • Acton, Australia

Abstract


  • There is considerable evidence that the babirusa of Sulawesi and its neighbouring islands has

    long attracted human attention. This is probably in part due to the male babirusa appearing as

    a bizarre compound of two familiar ungulates (babi = ‘pig’, rusa = ‘deer’) in that the male’s upper

    canines resemble deer antlers. In October 2014, Aubert et al. announced in Nature that a cave

    art depiction in Leang Timpuseng, Maros, interpreted by the authors to depict a female babirusa,

    was created at least 35,400 years ago and is therefore of comparable antiquity to the oldest

    recorded Late Pleistocene cave art of Europe. Using geometric morphometrics, we compare the

    Leang Timpuseng cave art to profile photographs and illustrations depicting the babirusa and the

    endemic Sulawesi warty pig, including historical illustrations produced by Europeans during the

    period ~AD 1740–1860. Our analysis indicates that geometric morphometrics can be applied

    to meaningfully analyse naturalistic cave art. However, because of the relatively small sample

    size and that the male babirusa dominates both historical and contemporary illustrations, the

    results are only indicative. These are that the Leang Timpuseng cave art is more likely to be

    depicting a female, and that this depiction differs markedly from historical and contemporary

    illustrations in that it shows a morphologically female suid as independently active. With regards

    to which animal is depicted, the results suggest the Leang Timpuseng cave art is possibly either

    an illustration of a female hairy/golden babirusa, which has not yet been proven to have a range

    extending to Sulawesi, or the extinct Babyrousa bolabatuensis, which is part of the existing

    Sulawesi fossil record and has been noted to be similar in tooth size to the hairy/golden babirusa.

Publication Date


  • 2018

Citation


  • Hayes, S. & van den Bergh, G. (2018). Cave art, art and geometric morphometrics: Shape changes and the babirusa of Sulawesi. In S. O'Connor, D. Bulbeck & J. Meyer (Eds.), The Archaeology of Sulawesi: Current Research on the Pleistocene to the Historic Period (pp. 43-59). Acton, Australia: ANU Press.

International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13


  • 9781760462567

Ro Full-text Url


  • https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1378&context=smhpapers1

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers1/371

Book Title


  • The Archaeology of Sulawesi: Current Research on the Pleistocene to the Historic Period

Start Page


  • 43

End Page


  • 59

Place Of Publication


  • Acton, Australia