Animals as Neighbours: The past and present of commensal animals.

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The aim of the book is to review the past and present relationships between people and the many other species, vertebrate and invertebrate, which benefit from sharing our living space. Termed ‘commensal’ species by biologists (lit. “at the same table”), a wide range of animal species gain food and shelter from associating closely with people in the highly modified environments that we call home. Some of these species we tolerate, even making them our household pets, some we regard as vermin, and some are neither encouraged nor despised but just part of the everyday scene. Precisely which species occupy these different roles varies from place to place and from time to time. The remarkable thing is that the habitats that people make for themselves seem to be attractive to a wide range of species in almost every part of the world, and that people throughout the world have incorporated some of these commensal animals into their cultural milieu. For such a world-wide phenomenon, it is obvious to ask how far back in time it extends, and to what extent the archaeological record can shed light on the time-depth of ourselves and our close neighbours.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEast Lansing, Michigan, USA
PublisherMichigan State University Press
ISBN (Electronic) 9781609173876
ISBN (Print)9781611860955
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013

Publication series

NameThe Animal Turn
PublisherMichigan State University Press


  • commensal animals
  • community ecology
  • archaeology
  • cultural co-evolution

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