House mouse dispersal in Iron Age Spain: a geometric morphometrics appraisal

Silvia Valenzuela-Lamas, Michel Baylac, Thomas Cucchi, Jean-Denis Vigne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


During the Iron Age, sea trade in the Mediterranean increased, particularly with the expansion of Phoenician and Greek colonies in the Western Mediterranean. A side effect of these human movements was the involuntary dispersion of commensal species, such as the house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus). One archaeological layer dated from the 4th Century BC, coming from an Iberian village located in the Mediterranean coast of Spain, contained a large and reliable accumulation of small mammals. The presence of the house mouse was highly suspected within this layer. To assess its abundance quantitatively, we used a geometric morphometrics approach of the first lower molar contour using elliptical Fourier analysis. We also increased the power of the discrimination between the Algerian mouse (Mus spretus) and the house mouse by combining a dimension reduction approach together with different validation procedures. The relative importance of age, sex, and geographical origin onto the shape and form of the lower molar contour was also investigated. The results obtained demonstrate the presence and the dominance of the house mouse in the landscape surrounding the Iberian village in the 1st Millennium BC, only a few centuries after its arrival in the Western Mediterranean Basin. A cross-validated linear discriminant function considering different Mediterranean populations suggest Morocco and France as the most probable geographical origins for the Algerian mouse, and Tunisia for the origin of house mice in North-Eastern Spain. (C) 2011 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 102, 483-497.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-497
Number of pages15
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Catalonia
  • colonization
  • elliptical Fourier analysis
  • geometric morphometrics
  • Mus musculus domesticus
  • Mus spretus
  • mus-musculus-domesticus
  • elliptic fourier-analysis
  • molar shape-analysis
  • Southern France
  • wild mice
  • spretus
  • evolution
  • diferentiation
  • populations
  • rodentia


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