Size and shape of the Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa), with a view to the reconstruction of its Holocene history

Umberto Albarella, Keith Dobney, Peter Rowley-Conwy

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


A large assortment of skulls and skeletons of recent wild boar (Sus scrofa) from across the world has been used to collect tooth and bone measurements that can be compared to those from archaeological specimens. The data provide useful information for a reconstruction of the Holocene history of the species. The evidence collected so far highlights the great variability of the species and provides a baseline to be used for the interpretation of ancient material. It is shown that not only the size, but also the shape of teeth and mandibles can help in highlighting patterns of variability in wild boar from different areas. A number of geographic trends are identified in the variation of S. scrofa across its range, mainly concerning the differentiation of insular forms, and the existence of South-North and West-East clines. Other factors such as hybridisation with domestic stock, feralisation and human-induced movement of animals may also play an important role. A comparison with ancient material emphasises the existence of similarities as well as differences between modern and ancient populations. Although some of the geographic trends identified on the basis of the analysis of modern material seem to date back to early Holocene times, the morphological history of the species appears to be complex, and in more than one area fluctuations in body size seem to have occurred.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-136
Number of pages34
JournalEnvironmental Archaeology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009


  • biometry
  • bones
  • teeth
  • wild boar
  • zooarchaeology
  • zoogeography
  • mitochondrial-DNA
  • pig domestication
  • Scandinavia
  • dispersal
  • evolution


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