Ancient DNA of the Pacific rat (Rattus exulans) from Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

S. S. Barnes, E. Matisoo-Smith, T. L. Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


We report analysis of ancient mitochondrial DNA sequences from nine archaeological specimens (8 femura and 1 incissor) of Rattus exulans excavated from Anakena Beach Dune on Rapa Nui. Sequence of a 239-base-pair fragment of the hypervariable mitochondrial control region reveals a single mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence of all samples corresponding to the R9 haplotype prevalent in East Polynesia. This suggests a single or very limited introduction of Rattus exulans to the island. Rapa Nui, like other remote islands of Polynesia, remained effectively isolated following colonization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1536-1540
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Ancient DNA
  • Island colonization
  • Polynesia
  • Rapa Nui
  • Rattus exulans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


Dive into the research topics of 'Ancient DNA of the Pacific rat (Rattus exulans) from Rapa Nui (Easter Island)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this