New Publication on Shellfish Resilience to Human Predation

A new analysis of size variation in Conomurex fasciatus shells from the Farasan Islands has recently been published.

The paper, by Niklas Hausmann, Matthew Meredith-Williams and Eva Laurie is entitled Shellfish resilience to prehistoric human consumption in the southern Red Sea: Variability in Conomurex fasciatus across time and space, and has recently been published online in Quaternary International.

The analysis comprises 15,000 measurements of individual shell specimens from 40 sites in the large Farasan islands shell-midden cluster. The results show that, despite the large quantity of C. fasciatus shells collected, there is no evidence that the natural shell beds came under pressure of over-exploitation. There are size variations, but these can be wholly accounted for by differences in habitat and growth conditions in different bays of the Farasan Islands and through time.

The paper highlights the significance of C. fasciatus as a dependable and renewable resource that has been available on Red Sea coastlines for at least 100,000 years. It would have provided an important and easily available food supply, especially in arid environments where other food resources were less abundant or reliable, and would therefore have been a potentially significant factor in facilitating patterns of human dispersal in and through the region.