Common Name: Gopher Tortoise
Scientific Name: Gopherus polyphemus
Gopher tortoises were one of the few wild animals that contributed to the diet of San Luis residents. Spaniards, in particular, preferred domesticated animals such as pigs and cows, or meat "on the hoof", as opposed to those native species that had to be hunted or trapped.
Animal Used at Mission San Luis
The study of plant and animals from sites (ethnobotany and zooarchaeology, respectively) is one of the most illuminating aspects of archaeological research. It can reveal details about past environments, resources, settlement patterns, agricultural practices, architecture, social life, and diet unavailable from other types of data.
Since plant remains are so fragile and often difficult to see, we have limited their display to a static exhibit case format (see "Apalachee Life"). However, we have selected some animal bones found at Mission San Luis, along with comparative skeletal materials (Drawers 17-26), to give to a sense of the challenges faced by those researchers who identify, analyze, and interpret these materials.
We have supplemented the skeletal materials with archaeological and documentary information about the use of these animals in Spanish Florida and at Mission San Luis.