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POSSIBLE GEOGRAPHIC ORIGINS OF THE FIRST NARAVÉ PIG

Archaeological findings concur that the earliest evidence of permanent human occupation in Vanuatu comes from a site on Malo, an island off the southeast coast of Espiritu Santo. This area was first settled around 1400 B.C. by the peoples of the Lapita culture and along with them in their canoes they brought a unique style of pottery, subsistence vegetables and domestic animals such as poultry, dogs and pigs(9). It is not hard to believe that through years of isolation, particularly on an island the size of Malo (17 km. long and 13 km. wide), some degree of inbreeding must have occurred. It was perhaps as a result of one of these close matings that the first intersexual pig appeared. Through successive generations, and because of the value placed on this "unique" pig, it was no doubt recognized by these intelligent people, that even though the intersexes themselves were incapable of perpetuating their own kind, certain female pigs (the falé-ravé as they came to be called) occasionally produced these intersexual offspring while others did not. In addition to the dam of the Naravé, occasionally a female sibling of the intersex becomes a Naravé producer herself. Thus the sows carrying the genes were also highly valued and as a result of artificial selection, this small obscure bit of Melanesia now has, by far, the greatest ratio of porcine intersexuality yet discovered. Because of the rarity of this sexual aberration, and the fact that these pigs could produce the highly valued curved tusks, these pigs became prized possessions in the cultures that practiced "Nimangki" or grade-taking. It was from this time that the people of Malo Island began purposefully breeding a pig that could help them to more swiftly achieve the status of chief, as well as being important monetarily in trade with the people of neighboring islands. It is also a fact that Malo, in time, became the center of a trade route connecting northern coastal Malakula with the main island of Santo and Tangoa Island(12). This trade route enlarged to include much of northern Vanuatu. It was along these routes that pandanus leaves, shell money, and domesticated animals were readily traded. It is my contention that the very first Naravé pigs were systematically bred on Malo Island, and then distributed throughout the northern islands of the Archipelago during trading sessions in return for goods and services. Further evidence of this could be obtained from the DNA of skin samples of intersexes from several remote areas of Vanuatu to ascertain their relationship, if any, to each other.