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Volumen 4. Issue 3. Year 2006.

2020-03-28T19:17:59+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 4. Issue 3. Year 2006.|

VOLUME 4. NUMBER 3. 2006

Taphonomic Alteration and Evolutionary Taphonomy.

Sixto R. Fernández-López


[+info] VOLUME 4. ISSUE 3. 2006 (1 issue)

Every process of taphonomic alteration implies change and modification of the affected taphonomic elements, but it does not necessarily lead to the destruction of taphonomic elements. Taphonomic alteration can be of four types: elementary, populational, taphonic and taphocladal. In order to interpret the differential preservation of fossils and fossilization mechanisms it is necessary to take in mind not only the original architecture of taphonomic elements and the environmental changes, but also the successive changes in architecture of taphonomic elements and the activities carried out by taphonomic elements, as well as the evolutionary modifications of taphons and taphoclades. This systemic and evolutionist procedure allows to explain how the representatives of some taphons or taphoclades have been able to end up being preserved outside of the limits of tolerance of the originally produced taphonomic elements.

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Taphonomic Characteristics of Micromammals Predated by Small Mammalian Carnivores in South Africa: Application to Fossil Accumulations.

Thalassa Matthews


[+info] VOLUME 4. ISSUE 3. 2006 (2 issue)

Micromammal (Murid, Soricid, Macroscelid and Chrysochlorid) bones and teeth may become incorporated into palaeontological and archaeological sites through the deposition of scats from small carnivores, or the regurgitated pellets of owls or diurnal birds of prey. The pellets and scats disaggregate over time leaving behind accumulations of micromammal bones and teeth. Such accumulations are frequently used in palaeoclimatic and palaeoecological research. This paper presents the results of a comparative taphonomic study of the micromammal assemblages recovered from the scats of some African species of small mammalian carnivore (including the genet (Genetta genetta), caracal (Felis caracal) and serval (Felis serval)) with the aim of investigating the digestion patterns produced by these predators in order to ascertain what taphonomic signature they are likely leave in fossil micromammal accumulations. The incisor digestion patterns from the comparative assemblages suggest that certain African small carnivores produce assemblages with 100% of teeth showing light to moderate digestion. The taphonomic signature of the caracal is compared to that of other previously researched felid species and results indicate that there is considerable variation within the Felidae. The incisor digestion patterns of the small carnivores investigated suggest that the mixing of a small carnivore assemblage from a predator such as the genet with a category 1 predator would produce a pattern of incisor digestion similar to that produced by a category 2 or category 3 predator. It is clearly important to establish the taphonomic patterns of assemblages produced by southern African small carnivore species in order to ascertain exactly what characteristics distinguish the small carnivores scat assemblages from each other, and from other categories of predator. This is turn will provide information which can be used to identify and interpret fossil micromammal assemblages which have been accumulated by more than one species of predator.

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Surveying for Ungulate Skeletal Remains in Mediterranean Mountainous Habitats: a Quantitative Approach and Potential Use in Population Dynamics.

Emmanuel Serrano, Jesús M. Pérez , Charles P. Egeland, Pere Bover, Luis Gállego.


[+info] VOLUME 4. ISSUE 3. 2006 (3 issue)

Our research has estimated the frequency of occurrence of bone remains from ungulates in the Mediterranean area (Sistema Bético). We sampled a total of 36 transects and found an average of 4.9 ungulate bones per transect. Despite three fairly complete carcasses collected, still bearing soft tissues, long bones from the appendicular skeleton are the most common element type. The use of this source of data within global monitoring programs of wild ungulate populations is discussed.

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Volumen 4. Issue 4. Year 2006.

2020-03-28T19:18:11+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 4. Issue 4. Year 2006.|

VOLUME 4. NUMBER 4. 2006

By Ice Age Spotted Hyenas Removed, Cracked, Nibbled and Chewed Skeleton Remains of Coelodonta antiquitatis (BLUMENBACH 1799) from the Lower Weichselian (Upper Pleistocene) Freeland Prey Deposit Site Bad Wildungen-Biedensteg (Hessia, NW Germany).

Cajus G. Diedrich


[+info] VOLUME 4. ISSUE 4. 2006 (1 issue)

Eighty percent of 74 fragmentary cranial and postcranial bones of the Upper Pleistocene woolly rhinoceros Coelodonta antiquitatis (BLUMENBACH 1799) from the Lower Weichselian (65.000-90.000 BP, OIS 5, Upper Pleistocene) ice age spotted hyena open air prey deposit site Biedensteg at Bad Wildungen (Hessia, NW-Germany) exhibit crack, bite and nibbling marks. The skeletal remains represent at least five woolly rhinoceros individuals. Individual carcasses of an early adult female and a calf have been identified. Both show carcass disrupting and destruction by the hyenas in form of partly articulated bones, bone cracking, nibbling and chewing. Articulated parts of the skeletons were removed from the carcass and were stored in mud pits with other prey bones. The long bones, which are filled completely by the bone spongiosa, were generally not cracked, but are always gnawn intensively starting from the joints, while the hyenas mostly left the bone shaft intact. Such bone spongiosa was also not uncommon in hyena coprolites at the site. Typical bone destruction stages are represented. Those described in detail here include the cranium, scapula, humerus, ulna, radius, femur, tibia, pelvis but also vertebrae and costae. The woolly rhinoceros bones at the Bad Wildungen-Biedensteg freeland prey deposit site take 53% of the prey animal bones of Crocuta crocuta spelaea (Goldfuss 1823) and prove with other prey bones a mixed feeding onto all huge ice age mammals. Remains of Mammuthus antiquitatis, Bison priscus, Equus ferus przewalskii, Megaloceros giganteus, Rangifer tarandus, Ursus spelaeus and C. c. spelaea itself are included in the hyeana-modified fauna with 5-12% each showing signs of scavenging. The high percentage of the Coelodonta bones results more of the fact, that those are, such as mammoth bones, the most massive ones of ice age animals. The taphonomic comparison of C. antiquitatis carcasses and bones of Westphalian cave and freeland hyena den and prey deposit sites indicate the most important destruction impact of woolly rhinoceros carcasses by the Upper Pleistocene spotted hyena.

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Possible Taphonomic Bias in the Preservation of Phosphatic Macroinvertebrates in the Uppermost Maquoketa Formation (Upper Ordovician) of Northeastern Iowa (North-Central USA).

Heyo Van Iten, Michael Lichtenwalter, Juliana de Moraes Leme, Marcello Guimarães Simões.


[+info] VOLUME 4. ISSUE 4. 2006 (2 issue)

Examination of acid digestion residues can be an indispensable tool in the detection and identification of fragmentary remains of rare and/or fragile, macroinvertebrate fossils preserved in shallow shelf carbonates. We recovered submicroscopic fragments of phosphatic conulariid, Sphenothallus (Cnidaria), and ?Trematis (Linguliformea) skeletons from a slab of highly fossiliferous lime packstone from the uppermost Brainard Shale Member of the Maquoketa Formation (Richmondian, Upper Ordovician) of northeastern Iowa, USA. The bedding planes of this and four similar Brainard Member slabs (total upper bedding surface area approximately 0.38 m2) lack macrofossil specimens of these three taxa, which have never previously been reported from this rock unit. Analysis of the preservation of the abundant calcitic fossils revealed evidence of wave current action, including pervasive disarticulation of the brachiopods, echinoderms, and trilobites, and bimodal alignment of the narrowly conical Cornulites shells and elongate Eoplectodonta valves, almost all of which are also oriented convex up. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that storm wave activity on the Brainard Member sea floor fragmented originally macroscopic conulariid, Sphenothallus, and ?Trematis skeletons, making it difficult to detect these taxa at low magnifications and thus making it appear that they were absent in the original bottom community. Together with results of similar studies of other Paleozoic rock units, our investigation suggests that there is a systematic, taphonomic bias against conulariids, Sphenothallus, and linguliform (phosphatic) brachiopods in storm-influenced shelf deposits.

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Taphonomic analysis of Plant Remains Contained in Carnivore Scats in Andean South America.

Mariana Mondini, M. Fernanda Rodríguez.


[+info] VOLUME 4. ISSUE 4. 2006 (3 issue)

Plant remains contained in carnivore scats from Puna rockshelters in the Argentinean Andean Puna are analysed. Only 31% of the scats (n=16) contained plant remains, all of them corresponding to the Poaceae family. Most of these are leaf and culm parts, and only in one case seeds were identified, possibly also corresponding to the same family. The lack of fleshy fruit seeds suggests a different pattern of plant intake as compared to other areas, possibly just for purging here. Plant anatomical structure has suffered no damage from digestive acids but some softening, and all anatomical features are perfectly recognizable. Plants can thus then enter the fossil record in rockshelters in the region via carnivore scats, and this should be taken into account, especially as these are the same kind of plants most commonly introduced by humans in the past according to the regional archaeological record.

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Volumen 5. Issue 1. Year 2007.

2020-03-28T19:18:24+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 5. Issue 1. Year 2007.|

VOLUME 5. NUMBER 1. 2007

Micromammals: When Humans are the Hunters.

Genevieve Dewar, Antonietta Jerardino.


[+info] VOLUME 5. ISSUE 1. 2007 (1 issue)

Analysis of the faunal remains from KV502, a Later Stone Age occupation site in Namaqualand, South Africa yielded an assemblage dominated by micromammal cranial remains. The material from KV502 was compared to an assemblage of microfauna collected from the stomach area of a human burial from the same general region. This consisted entirely of post-crania. The pattern of relative abundance of elements, the degree of fragmentation of the long bones, and the level of acid etching observed in the remains of the human burial can be used to identify micromammals consumed by humans. The complementary pattern (or evidence) for processing micromammal remains by humans is identified at KV502. Further, it was determined that from the degree of modification to the bones, humans should be considered a category 5 predator following Andrews' (1990) classification. This increases the database of possible predators of micromammals, which is important when using microfauna to determine palaeoenvironments, as the preferential 'tastes' of a predator will bias the species list.

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Quantification and Age Structure of Semi-Hypsodont Extinct Rodent Populations.

Katerina Vasileiadou, Jerry J. Hooker, Margaret E. Collinson.


[+info] VOLUME 5. ISSUE 1. 2007 (2 issue)

A new method of calculating the MNI and a full lifespan mortality profile in assemblages of semi-hypsodont rodents is proposed. Fossil jaws of the Paleogene theridomyid genera Isoptychus, Theridomys? and Pseudoltinomys show similar patterns of dental replacement, eruption and wear for all three genera. Deciduous premolars on the point of being replaced by their permanent successors coexist in jaws with erupting, unworn, unrooted third molars. The minimum number of individuals (MNI) in a theridomyid assemblage, of which the local origin is demonstrated, can therefore be calculated using the sum of deciduous premolars plus the most abundant of the permanent premolars or third molars. The teeth used to estimate the MNI of a species can also be used for the construction of its mortality profile. The ratio of an age-dependent crown height measurement to an age-independent crown width measurement is used as an age proxy for the establishment of 'age groups'. Wear patterns correspond well to age groups and, thus, broken unmeasurable specimens need not be excluded, as their wear stage can be used to assign them to 'age groups'.
Using these methods, the MNI and mortality profiles of one Isoptychus sp. and two Thalerimys fordi assemblages from the Late Eocene Solent Group (Hampshire Basin, Isle of Wight, southern England) were reconstructed. The mortality is attritional, showing a characteristic 'U-shape' in the distribution of the individuals in 'age groups'. The members of the three species, therefore, died of biological natural causes and not by a catastrophic event. This method can be applied to fossil semi-hypsodont micromammalian species, provided dental ontogeny is known. The method enables the construction of mortality profiles for the complete age range and, consequently, allows the analysis of the accumulation mechanisms of assemblages of semi-hypsodont rodents, with deciduous and permanent premolars. It can readily be applied to assemblages consisting only of isolated teeth.

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Estimating the preservation of tooth structures: towards a new scale of observation.

Yannicke Dauphin, Stéphane Montuelle, Cécile Quantin, Pierre Massard.


[+info] VOLUME 5. ISSUE 1. 2007 (3 issue)

For a better understanding of the fossilization processes and the paleoenvironmental records, knowing the state of preservation of fossil structures is essential. This paper presents how the analysis of tooth structures can be improved by using techniques increasing spatial resolution and accuracy, like atomic force microscopy (AFM). Micro- and nanostructural changes of the fresh and fossil dentine and enamel of two Suidae were thus observed with scanning electron (SEM) and atomic force microscopes. AFM and SEM show similar images for enamel and dentine in fresh teeth, whereas discrepancy occurs for fossil teeth. Both techniques show that dentine is modified by taphonomic and diagenetic processes, but only AFM is able to reveal that enamel is also altered, because AFM magnification and resolution are better than SEM ones. The apparent state of tissue preservation depends on the scale of observation and AFM, an analytical tool and a non-destructive/direct technique, allows a better understanding of the evolution of tissues at a nano-scale.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Make hay while the sun shines.

David K. Ferguson


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Volumen 5. Issue 2. Year 2007.

2020-03-28T19:18:37+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 5. Issue 2. Year 2007.|

VOLUME 5. NUMBER 2. 2007

Taphonomic Analysis of Pseudalopex griseus (Gray, 1837) Scat Assemblages and their Archaeological Implications.

Gustavo N. Gómez, Cristian A. Kaufmann.


[+info] VOLUME 5. ISSUE 2. 2007 (1 issue)

Grey fox (Pseudalopex griseus) scats deposited in the immediate vicinity of guanaco (Lama guanicoe) carcasses were analyzed to evaluate this carnivore´s transport of bones. Samples were from the arid, semi-desert Río Negro Province, Argentina, where the annual mean temperature (15ºC) varies widely with the season. Rates of breakage, the presence of tooth marks and digestion traces on bones from scats were analyzed to categorize the taphonomic signature of the small grey fox. The values of the modification variables used in the categorization indicate that the grey fox (Pseudalopex griseus) may be considered a Category 5 predator.

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Taphonomy of the Oxfordian-Lowermost Kimmeridgian Siliceous Sponges of the Prebetic Zone (Southern Iberia).

M. Reolid


[+info] VOLUME 5. ISSUE 2. 2007 (2 issue)

The siliceous sponges in the Oxfordian-lowermost Kimmeridgian deposits of the Prebetic were important rock-forming organisms, and the most important in the spongiolithic lithofacies group. The siliceous sponges were in several cases the main component in macroinvertebrate assemblages. This taphonomic analysis shows the sequence of processes that occur in the fossilization of siliceous sponges.
As soon as the sponge is dead, the fixation to the substrate is weakened and currents or organisms can tilt and overturn the sponge. The decay of soft tissue led to the precipitation of automicrites (possibly influenced by sulphate-reducing bacteria); at the same time skeletal silica dissolves where, later, the calcitic cementation is produced. Afterwards, the sponge remains were bored by lithophagous bivalves and colonized in the upward surfaces by benthic microbial communities and nubeculariids, and secondarily other foraminifera, whereas downward surfaces were encrusted by annelids (serpulids and terebellids), sessile foraminifera (Tolypammina, Subdelloidina, and Bullopora among others) and bryozoans. Local fragmentation of sponges and their encrustations formed the tuberoids, which behave like an intraclast subjected to transport and encrustation.

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A Multidisciplinary Approach Reveals an Extraordinary Double Inhumation in the Osteoarchaeological Record.

J. Rascón Pérez , O. Cambra-Moo A. González Martín.


[+info] VOLUME 5. ISSUE 2. 2007 (3 issue)

An exceptional archaeological discovery from the Muslim Baza necropolis is reported. An unusual double inhumation presents a complete skeleton of a pregnant woman close to childbirth time, and the skeletal remains of a fetus located between her femora (i.e., outside the abdominal or pelvic area). A first osteological review showed a complete fetus skeleton apparently disconnected. However, a deeper evaluation of the material revealed a more articulated state without signs of any taphonomic alterations or scavenger marks. On the one hand, ancient Muslim traditions suggest that if a baby dies during pregnancy or in premature childbirth, but the mother survives, the baby must be extracted and entombed individually. On the other hand, both skeletons do not present evidences of obstetric problems that could explain unexpected labour complications. Therefore, in the case reported in the present work, it is clear that the mother died before or at the same time as the baby, and she was entombed with the baby inside. A multidisciplinary revision of anthropological, archaeological, taphonomic and cultural data obtained through literature, has been combined with recent data extracted from decomposition experiments (i.e., actuo-taphonomy). This heuristic scenario has allowed us to build a parsimonious hypothesis in which such an unusual location of the fetus remains could be explained by analyzing the known steps in taphonomic-forensic dynamics. It is argued that before both corpses were finally skeletonized and covered with sediment, the mother corpse accumulated gas due to organic tissue degradation, and ejected the fetus remains out of the abdominal cavity.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Dirty Landing.

Christian A. Meyer


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Volumen 5. Issue 3. Year 2007.

2020-03-28T19:18:52+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 5. Issue 3. Year 2007.|

VOLUME 5. NUMBER 3. 2007

The Aquatic Genus Notonecta (Insecta: Heteroptera) as a Palaeo-ecological Indicator of Rhythmite Miming Sequences in Shallow Freshwater Deposits.

Jean-Claude Paicheler , André Nel, Jean-Claude Gall, Xavier Delclòs.


[+info] VOLUME 5. ISSUE 3. 2007 (1 issue)

We study the processes of laminae formation in the Oligo-Miocene volcano-sedimentary palaeolakes of the Gürçü-Dere Valley (Anatolia, Turkey). These deposits contain a rich macro- and micro-flora and vertebrate and insect fauna. The deposition and fossilisation of these organisms' remains are related to the development of the lakes' surface and bottom microbial mats. These strata are made of two types of rhythmite or varve, imitating dark and clear laminae sequences. The first type is (detritic + organic material) / diatoms at the Bes-Konak palaeolake, probably not of seasonal origin (rhythmite), but providing evidence of short ecological 'mini-catastrophes', a few weeks long, in confined environments. The second type is (diatoms + organic matter) / dolomite at the Iybeler palaeolake, probably of seasonal origin (varve). For the first time, we show that fossil insects, i.e. the Notonecta spp., are highly relevant to determining the relative duration and mechanisms of the depositions of these laminae.

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Carnivore Bone Portion Choice and Surface Modification on Modern Experimental Boiled Bone Assemblages.

Jessica C. Thompson, Yolanda Lee-Gorishti.


[+info] VOLUME 5. ISSUE 3. 2007 (2 issue)

Numerous experiments on modern bone assemblages have demonstrated that carnivores preferentially ravage bone portions that have high fat content such as ribs, vertebrae, pelves, and the spongy ends of long bones. If marrow is present in long bones, carnivores will break them to access it. If humans remove the marrow first, carnivores typically ignore midshaft fragments and focus on spongy portions that contain bone grease. These portions are swallowed and the grease is extracted within the gut. Many modern human groups regularly implement bone boiling technology to extract grease, and this technology is also known to have existed during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene - particularly among high-latitude hunter-gatherer groups. Because most actualistic studies of bone surface modification and carnivore bone portion choice are based on unboiled bones, the results may not be applicable to archaeological assemblages in which bone boiling technology was utilized. An experimental evaluation of the effects that bone boiling has on carnivore bone portion choice and relative proportions of human and carnivore bone surface modification indicates that; 1) The extraction of bone grease from bone ends during boiling, particularly prolonged boiling, causes carnivores to become less selective in bone portion choice; and 2) As a likely result of this decreased selectivity, the relative proportions of tooth- and percussion-marked midshaft fragments in heavily boiled assemblages (those boiled longer than 10 hours) is not likely to remain a reliable indicator of the timing of carnivore and human interaction with an assemblage.

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Differential Fragmentation of Different Ungulate Body-Size: A Comparison of Gazelle and Fallow Deer Bone Fragmentation in Levantine Prehistoric Assemblages.

Reuven Yeshurun, Nimrod Marom, Guy Bar-Oz.


[+info] VOLUME 5. ISSUE 3. 2007 (3 issue)

Differences amongst ungulate body-size classes in archaeofaunal assemblages are frequently used to infer economic structure, human transport and processing decisions, or pre-burial taphonomic processes. It was found that bones of larger ungulates (fallow deer, Dama mesopotamica) are generally more fragmented than analogous elements of smaller ungulates (mountain gazelle, Gazella gazella). This pattern is consistent across several Levantine Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic bone assemblages and does not stem from recovery or identification biases, or from animal-induced taphonomic causes such as carnivore ravaging. We suggest that the greater fragmentation of larger animals is an artifact of either differential human processing of large and small animals, or of post-depositional attritional processes. Our analysis points to the greater likelihood of the latter scenario. We conclude that inter-taxonomic comparisons should consider the possibility that key zooarchaeological measures may be biased due to differential size-related fragmentation, affecting inferences on human behavior, taphonomic processes, and paleoenvironments.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Chasing carnivores.

Jose Yravedra


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Volumen 5. Issue 4. Year 2007.

2020-03-28T19:19:04+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 5. Issue 4. Year 2007.|

VOLUME 5. NUMBER 4. 2007

Criteria for the Identification of Formation Processes in Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) Bone Assemblages in Fluvial-Lacustrine Environments.

María A. Gutierrez, Cristian A. Kaufmann.


[+info] VOLUME 5. ISSUE 4. 2007 (1 issue)

The aim of this paper is to present and discuss methodological criteria that may be of use in exploring the role of water in the formation of the faunal record in fluvial and lacustrine environments. As such, the dispersion potential of the bones of adult and neonate guanaco (Lama guanicoe) skeletons in an aquatic environment with very low hydraulic energy is evaluated through experimentation. Results of the experiments are integrated with other, complementary criteria and applied to the bone assemblage recovered at Paso Otero 1 site, situated on the margin of the ancient flood plain of the Quequén Grande River (Buenos Aires Province, Argentina). The results of this study indicate that water was the main agent responsible for guanaco bone accumulation at the site. It is proposed that some of the skeletal parts, which belong to guanaco carcasses that were processed and exploited by hunter-gatherers in areas close to the site, were added to those from animals that died naturally. This resulted in a mixture of material of both natural and anthropic origin.

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Taphonomy in Present Day Desertic Environment: The Case of the Djourab (Chad) Plio-Pleistocene Deposits.

Denys, Christiane, Schuster M., Guy F., Mouchelin G.,Vignaud P., Viriot L., Brunet M, Duringer P., Fanoné F., Djimdoumalbaye A, Likius A, Mackaye H.T., Sudre J.


[+info] VOLUME 5. ISSUE 4. 2007 (2 issue)

Preliminary taphonomic studies were conducted on three different early hominid Chadian sites aged between 5 Ma and 3 Ma (KB, KL, KT fossil areas). Specific excavations and taphonomic sampling protocols were established. Research of the various alterations and the origins of bone modifications were carried out. All fossil assemblages bear traces of carnivore tooth marks as well as weathering and wind/water polishing. Digestion is present on bones from the KB & KL sites. Rootmark traces were found only on bones from the KB and KT sites. All three sites display various polishing patterns among which much of the abrasion results from wind polishing on the top surface, on the exposed face of large flat bones difficult to move. By contrast water action works on all faces of polished bones. KL seems to show more water transport influence than the two other sites. Weathering stages are light to heavy (stages 2-4) and the presence of gnawing, and traces of roots plus tooth marks indicates that bones stayed sometimes on the soil surface and that the assemblages may be of attritional origin. But the low density of bones and the presence of a very thin fossil layer are very exceptional and it is not clear weather the fossil sites have been condensed during the past or if this is the result of present day extreme desert conditions. More detailed work on other Djourab sites should allow to refine the taphonomic history concerning these early hominid accumulations and formation.

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Brachiopod Shells on the Beach: Taphonomic Overprinting in a Fair-Weather Shell Accumulation.

Marcello Guimarães Simões, Sabrina Coelho Rodrigues, Juliana de Moraes Leme, Ricardo Angelim Pires-Domingues.


[+info] VOLUME 5. ISSUE 4. 2007 (3 issue)

This study documents the occurrence of brachiopod shells (Bouchardia rosea) in wrack-lines from backshore deposits of a tropical beach (Itamambuca beach), in the northern coast (Ubatuba County) of the state of São Paulo, Brazil. The main goals are: (a) to analyze the provenance and sorting of the brachiopod shells; (b) to provide the taphonomic signatures of the shells, which may favor the recognizance, description and diagnoses of similar shell concentrations in ancient rocks, and (c) to discuss the taphonomic meaning of these detrital accumulations. Sampling transects were done at the reflective and dissipative sectors of the Itamambuca beach. For this project, two thousand brachiopod shells were collected and examined. In general, shells are minute, pale in color, and extremely rounded with reduced shell micro-relieves. Abrasion is the main taphonomic signature recorded. Abraded shells are characterized by V-shaped scars on the external surface, exposing the secondary fibrous layer of the shell microstructure. In some cases, holes produced by abrasion (facets) are recorded in the most convex portion of the shells. A pronounced bias in favor of ventral valve is also noted, and the size frequency distribution of shells is shaped by taphonomy. Finally, shells show intense taphonomic overprinting, but the taphonomic signatures recorded on those shells are worth to provide valuable clues about the taphonomic pathways and spatial transportation of each bioclast.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Taphonomy and praxis.

Mariano Padilla Cano


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Volumen 6. Issue 1. Year 2008.

2020-03-28T19:19:16+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 6. Issue 1. Year 2008.|

VOLUME 6. NUMBER 1. 2008

A Deposition Mechanism for Holocene Miring Bone Deposits, South Island, New Zealand.

Jamie R. Wood, Trevor H. Worthy, Nicolas J. Rawlence, Susan M. Jones, Stephen E. Read.


[+info] VOLUME 6. ISSUE 1. 2008 (1 issue)

Localised deposits of Late Pleistocene and Holocene bird bones occur in wetlands throughout New Zealand. These are characterised by dense accumulations of mostly disarticulated bones, with assemblages dominated by large, flightless bird taxa; in particular the extinct ratite moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes). A wide range of deposition mechanisms were historically proposed for these sites, including large floods and stampedes during wildfires. We outline a simple method for analysing the orientation and spatial distribution of bones within these deposits using GIS software, and apply this method to the interpretation of three such deposits from South Island, New Zealand. The results are consistent with non-catastrophic, periodic miring of individual moa. Long bones within these sites were preferentially orientated and subhorizontally inclined, indicating post-deposition disarticulation and movement of the bones within the sediment by sediment liquefaction and raking from the legs of mired birds, with a possible influence from water flow. Small, light skeletal elements were significantly under represented in the deposits. This may be due to post-mortem scavenging or weathering of vertebra and crania, 'pumping' to the surface of light, buoyant elements during liquefaction events, or crushing of these elements by subsequently mired birds.

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An Approach to the Study of Variations in Early Stages of Gallus gallus Decomposition.

Oscar Cambra-Moo, Ángela D. Buscalioni, Rafael Delgado-Buscalioni.


[+info] VOLUME 6. ISSUE 1. 2008 (2 issue)

We explored decay rate dynamics in the early decomposition process of Gallus gallus. Our initial hypothesis was that the variation of the mass decay rate is sensitive to the alterations experienced by the carcass during decomposition. In order to establish a framework for the different patterns of carcass alteration, a sample with successive ontogenetic stages (from embryo to adult), set in three environmental conditions (subaerial, burial, and water-submerged), was examined over an 18-day experimental period. Values of the average mass loss and decay rate, and a measure of the overall decomposition rate () for all individuals in the same group and environment are provided. Decay rate was greatest during gas production and expulsion (days 7 to 10) in all age classes, and, at this stage, individuals underwent critical body alterations, in special in subaerial and water environments. The decay process ended at the skeletonization stage, reached after 11 days in the subaerial setting, and after 28 days when specimens were buried. The analysis of decay rate in water does not provide complete information since decomposition was conditioned by the waterlogging of feathers and tissues. The correlation of age and the decay rate indicated that older individuals decayed faster during the first 6 days, before the onset of the gas phase. Also, during the early stages of the process, differences in decay rate were induced by age, while during the gas phase, variation was driven by individual factors. When skin was removed, corpses underwent rapid dehydration, which induced an exponential decrease of the decay rate. By comparison, skin tended to dampen and varied in decay rate.

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The Taphonomy of the Pliocene Microfauna from Kanapoi, North-Western Kenya.

Fredrick Kyalo Manthi.


[+info] VOLUME 6. ISSUE 1. 2008 (3 issue)

A taxonomic and taphonomic study was carried out on two assemblages of microfauna from the Pliocene locality of Kanapoi in north-western Kenya, in order to understand the agent/s responsible for their accumulation and the taphonomic processes that have influenced the assemblages. The two sites, namely, Nzube's Mandible Site and the Bat Site have yielded microfaunal remains comprising largely rodents and bats. The fauna at Nzube's Mandible Site derives from the same site as the holotype mandible of Australopithecus anamensis and comprises largely murids, while that from the Bat Site consists largely bats. Characteristics of the assemblages such as the high representation of nearly all skeletal elements suggest that, although pre- and post-depositional processes caused damage to the faunal remains, overall the samples are a fairly true reflection of the original assemblages that accumulated at the sites. Further, the high representation of virtually all skeletal elements, the minimal degree of etching among the murid incisors, and the high faunal diversity, particularly at Nzube's Mandible Site, indicate that the two assemblages accumulated in situ by way of predation. Even though several predators may have been involved, the barn owl (Tyto alba) or the giant eagle owl (Bubo lacteus), are the most likely accumulators of the two assemblages.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Bone accumulators.

Isabel Cruz


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Volumen 6. Issue 2. Year 2008.

2020-03-28T19:19:29+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 6. Issue 2. Year 2008.|

VOLUME 6. NUMBER 2. 2008

Ancient Hunters, Modern Butchers. Schöningen 13II-4, a Kill-Butchery Site Dating from the Northwest European Lower Paleolithic.

Boudewijn Voormolen


[+info] VOLUME 6. ISSUE 2. 2008 (1 issue)

[The editors wish to announce that this is a special issue containing a doctoral research on the taphonomy of the important middle Pleistocene site of Schöningen. It is presented in two files to enable easy downloading. For this purpose, the original JT online format has been modified and it is presented as in the printed format.]

The research1 Ancient Hunters, Modern Butchers presents a first detailed study of bone material found
together with spectacularly preserved wooden spears at the Lower Palaeolithic site of Schöningen 13II-4,
in Germany. Analysis of a large sample of bone remains from this site revealed data being very relevant to
the hunting versus scavenging debate in Palaeolithic archaeology. Excellent conservation of the bone
material facilitated a thorough documentation of butchery traces and the reconstruction of early hominid
subsistence behaviour at the site. The author argues that Schöningen 13II-4 represents a Lower Palaeolithic
kill-butchery site where especially horses have been killed and butchered for multiple animal products.
The results of this study seriously question the validity of models on marginal, more scavenging like
Lower Palaeolithic hominid subsistence behaviour.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Taphonomy and Paleolithic Archaeology.

Boudewijn Voormolen


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Volumen 6. Issue 3-4. Year 2008.

2020-03-28T19:19:43+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 6. Issue 3-4. Year 2008.|

VOLUME 6. NUMBER 3 & 4. 2008 [THE TAPHONOMY OF BONE-CRUNCHING CARNIVORES. Special issue edited by Charles P. Egeland.]

THE TAPHONOMY OF BONE-CRUNCHING CARNIVORES. Special issue edited by Charles P. Egeland.

Bone-Crunching Carnivores as Taphonomic Agents: An Introduction to a Special Volume of Journal of Taphonomy.

Charles P. Egeland


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Cetaceans from a Possible Striped Hyaena Den Site in Qatar.

Peter Andrews


[+info] VOLUME 6. ISSUE 3 & 4. 2008 (2 issue)

A small bone assemblage from Qatar is described. The bones were found in a small cave eroded out of marine sediments and the most likely accumulator of the bones was striped hyaena, Hyaena hyaena. Four species of large mammal are represented in the assemblage, striped hyaena, camel, gazelle and the finless porpoise. In addition there were some rodent and bird bones, the origin of which was uncertain. There were 68 identifiable large mammal bones in total, 2 skulls, 6 mandibles, 11 isolated teeth and 23 postcranial elements, together with 26 ear ossicles of the finless porpoise. In addition, 10 indeterminate large mammal bones were collected. The assemblage was identified as a striped hyaena accumulation firstly by the presence of a skull and mandible of this species in the assemblage, and secondly by the nature of the damage and modifications of the bones. The striped hyaena is probably now extinct in Qatar, and one of the bones was dated radiometrically to 580 ± 200 years. This bone showed characteristic signs of desiccation, and it is similar in preservation to the rest of the assemblage. The numbers and sizes of chewing marks are similar to those seen in spotted hyaena assemblages, and particularly when the maximum sizes of marks is taken into account they are distinct from canid chewing marks. The most striking feature of the assemblage is the abundance of finless porpoise skull bones representing at least 13 individuals, and this is taken to indicate that the hyaena was hunting or scavenging along the coast of the Arabian Gulf about 4km from the den site.

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Taphonomic Analysis of a Modern Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) Den from Nairobi, Kenya.

Amy G. Egeland, Charles P. Egeland, Henry T. Bunn.


[+info] VOLUME 6. ISSUE 3 & 4. 2008 (3 issue)

This paper provides detailed taphonomic data on a modern spotted hyena (Crocuta croctua) den assemblage collected near Nairobi, Kenya. Weathering data, skeletal part abundances, bone surface modifications, and bone fragmentation data indicate that: (1) spotted hyenas (and other agents) accumulated bones at the locality over many years; (2) density-mediated attrition played an important, though not singular, role in structuring skeletal part patterning; (3) a majority of the carcasses acquired by the hyenas were transported incompletely back to the den; (4) the low level of competition characterizing the den resulted in reduced levels of bone destruction that could potentially be tracked in a similar fossil assemblage. Although these data present interesting possibilities for interpreting fossil bone accumulations, many more dens must be analyzed using similar methods in order to fully realize this potential.

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Taphonomic Analyses of a Hyena Den and a Natural-Death Assemblage Near Lake Eyasi (Tanzania).

Mary E. Prendergast, Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo.


[+info] VOLUME 6. ISSUE 3 & 4. 2008 (4 issue)

Spotted hyena dens are usually characterized by moderate to intense ravaging of bones, high tooth mark rates and the presence of digested bone. This paper presents a taphonomic study of such a den and of a nearby natural-death assemblage. Together these studies widen the known range of variability of taphonomic attributes of assemblages accumulated and/or modified by spotted hyenas. The den, which is the focus of our study, is characterized by a low degree of bone breakage and ravaging, intermediate tooth mark frequencies, a moderate amount of trampled bone and a lack of digested bone. In a comparative discussion, drawing on several published hyena-made assemblages, we highlight several features of hyena accumulations that are quite variable. Such variability should be well-understood when applying actualistic studies to the fossil record.

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Bone-Crunching Felids at the End of the Pleistocene in Fuego-Patagonia, Chile.

Fabiana M. Martin.


[+info] VOLUME 6. ISSUE 3 & 4. 2008 (5 issue)

The fragmented bone remains of extinct mammals recovered at several late Pleistocene sites in Fuego-Patagonia are analyzed. Indications of human involvement with the bones are not abundant and some of the sites are purely paleontological. However, all of them preserve large carnivore tooth marks. Some of the sites can be explained as accumulations produced by extinct felids.

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Paleoecological Information in Predator Tooth Marks.

Briana L. Pobiner.


[+info] VOLUME 6. ISSUE 3 & 4. 2008 (6 issue)

This paper reviews the evidence for tooth marks made by sharks, crocodiles, dinosaurs, rodents, and especially mammalian carnivores on modern and fossil bones. The ecological and taphonomic information revealed in tooth marks, including: predator identity, prey preferences, and feeding behavior and ecology are discussed, and a compilation of metric measurements of taxon-specific modern and fossil mammalian carnivore tooth marks from the published literature is also provided. Some recommendations intended to improve the scope and scale of future tooth-damage research are also presented.

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Reanalysis and Reinterpretation of the Kalkbank Faunal Accumulation, Limpopo Province, South Africa.

Jarod M. Hutson, Chester R. Cain.


[+info] VOLUME 6. ISSUE 3 & 4. 2008 (7 issue)

Previous accounts of the late Pleistocene Kalkbank faunal accumulation cited humans as the primary agent of accumulation. Here we present the first in-depth taphonomic analysis of the fauna. Revised interpretation based on surface modification and bone breakage patterns reflect an overwhelming carnivore presence at the site. The only indications of human involvement with the fauna were a few stone tools and three possible hammerstone percussion marks. Porcupine involvement with the assemblage was considerable, but appears to be secondary to carnivore predation. The site likely represents a serial predation site where carnivores regularly ambushed prey near the margins of an ancient pan. Published accounts of fossil predation hot spots are rare, and much of the available data on these sites originate from modern landscape studies. Evidence from the Kalkbank accumulation suggests that patterns seen at fossil predation hot spots may not conform to patterns observed in modern accumulations.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: An Unexpected Encounter with a Bone Cruncher.

Amy G. Egeland, Charles P. Egeland.


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Volumen 7. Issue 1. Year 2009.

2020-03-28T19:19:56+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 7. Issue 1. Year 2009.|

VOLUME 7. NUMBER 1. 2009

Human Chewing Bone Surface Modification and Processing of Small and Medium Prey Amongst the Nukak (Foragers of the Colombian Amazon).

Gustavo Martínez


[+info] VOLUME 7. ISSUE 1. 2009 (1 issue)

This paper explores aspects related to management and exploitation of faunal resources by the Nukak (Guaviare Department, Colombian Amazon), a hunter-gatherer tropical rain forest group. Although this group hunts a variety of vertebrates, this analysis only focuses on monkey and peccary which are the main species that are exploited. Due to the different sizes of these prey and to non economic factors such as taboos, the Nukak display a wide variety of animal exploitation. Data related to observations on Nukak hunting, butchering, transport, cooking, dismembering process and consumption will be combined with the information coming from the study of bone surface modifications. Thus, human behavior related to the production of bone surface modifications (e.g., cut marks, fractures, burning, chewing, etc.) derived from Nukak prey treatment are discussed. It is also proposed that chewing traits on bone surfaces were produced by humans.

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Taphonomic Aspects of African Porcupines (Hystrix cristata) in the Kenyan Highlands.

Job Munuhe Kibii


[+info] VOLUME 7. ISSUE 1. 2009 (2 issue)

Three porcupine (Hystrix cristata) burrows were investigated in the tea growing region of central Kenya. Owing to the fact that the region is largely devoid of bones, the porcupines are forced to collect and gnaw discarded plastics. My results contradict the hypothesis that H. africaeaustralis and H. cristata collect and gnaw bone to obtain nutrients. This hypothesis implies that porcupines evolved continuously growing incisors in response to a diet supplemented by hard resources. My findings instead support the hypothesis that porcupines collect and gnaw hard organic and inorganic items as a behavioral adaptation to hone and trim their continuously growing incisors.

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Volumetric BMD Values of Archaeological Human Bone Remains with pQCT and DEXA.

Jorge Alejandro Suby, Ricardo Aníbal Guichon, Gustavo Cointry, José Luis Ferretti.


[+info] VOLUME 7. ISSUE 1. 2009 (3 issue)

Bone mineral density (BMD) is a mediating factor of some attritional taphonomic processes. In the last few decades BMD has been successfully employed to assess differential preservation in faunal archaeological samples. In contrast, the BMD of human remains was scarcely studied with taphonomic purposes. Moreover, there is some controversy concerning the reliability of the methods proposed to evaluate this bone property. In this study, we determined the human postcranial volumetric BMD (vBMD) of an archaeological assemblage from Tierra del Fuego (Argentina), with peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) and area BMD with X-ray densitometry (DEXA). Although the pQCT-assessed vBMD values were more accurate and offer important biomechanical references, the information given by the shape-adjusted vBMD values calculated from DEXA aBMD data is also reliable and provides enough resolution for detection of BMD-related taphonomic processes.

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Taphonomic Applications of Georadar.

Ilya V. Buynevick.


[+info] VOLUME 7. ISSUE 1. 2009 (4 issue)

Taphonomic research, particularly in vertebrate paleontology and archaeology, relies on the analysis of geological context of fossils or artifacts. Ground-penetrating radar is an effective high-resolution subsurface imaging technique that can be used not only for locating buried objects (decimeter-scale or larger), but also for visualizing their in situ geological context. The records often reveal sediment deformation structures around a buried target and allow imaging below the water table, often inaccessible by other methods. This paper presents examples of recent settings (ephemeral inlet channel and active dune) to illustrate the use of georadar in resolving both continuous (geological) and pointsource (three-dimensional objects) features. When complemented with excavations or exposures, subsurface images become an important part of taphonomic investigation by paleontologists and archaeologists.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: No cut marks, no tooth marks. The anatomical connections at the Gran Dolina site.

Jordi Rossel, Ruth Blasco.


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Ir a Arriba