Evidence of prehistoric human activity in the Falkland Islands

Kit M. Hamley, Jacquelyn L. Gill, Kathryn E. Krasinski, Dulcinea V. Groff, Brenda L. Hall, Daniel H. Sandweiss, John R. Southon, Paul Brickle, Thomas V. Lowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


When Darwin visited the Falkland Islands in 1833, he noted the puzzling occurrence of the islands' sole terrestrial mammal, Dusicyon australis (or “warrah”). The warrah's origins have been debated, and prehistoric human transport was previously rejected because of a lack of evidence of pre-European human activity in the Falkland Islands. We report several lines of evidence indicating that humans were present in the Falkland Islands centuries before Europeans, including (i) an abrupt increase in fire activity, (ii) deposits of mixed marine vertebrates that predate European exploration by centuries, and (iii) a surface-find projectile point made of local quartzite. Dietary evidence from D. australis remains further supports a potential mutualism with humans. The findings from our study are consistent with the culture of the Yaghan (Yámana) people from Tierra del Fuego. If people reached the Falkland Islands centuries before European colonization, this reopens the possibility of human introduction of the warrah.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabh3803
JournalScience Advances
Issue number44
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based on work supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship under grant no.1840992 to K.M.H., an Explorer's Club Student Research Grant, a Rolex/Explorer's Club grant, the Dan and Betty Churchill Exploration Fund, and >200 crowdfunders on experiment.com. J.L.G. was supported by NSF CAREER grant EAR-1753186.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC).

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • FALK

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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