Quaternary paleontological and archaeological evidence often is crucial for uncovering the historical mechanisms shaping modern diversity and distributions. We take an interdisciplinary approach using multiple lines of evidence to understand how past human activity has shaped long-term animal diversity in an island system. Islands afford unique opportunities for such studies given their robust fossil and archaeological records. Herein, we examine the only non-volant terrestrial mammal endemic to the Bahamian Archipelago, the hutia Geocapromys ingrahami. This capromyine rodent once inhabited many islands but is now restricted to several small cays. Radiocarbon dated fossils indicate that hutias were present on the Great Bahama Bank islands before humans arrived at AD ~800–1000; all dates from other islands post-date human arrival. Using ancient DNA from a subset of these fossils, along with modern representatives of Bahamian hutia and related taxa, we develop a fossil-calibrated phylogeny. We found little genetic divergence among individuals from within either the northern or southern Bahamas but discovered a relatively deep North-South divergence (~750 ka). This result, combined with radiocarbon dating and archaeological evidence, reveals a pre-human biogeographic divergence, and an unexpected human role in shaping Bahamian hutia diversity and biogeography across islands.