Volumen 1 Issue 1 Year 2003

2020-03-28T21:19:01+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 1. Issue 1. Year 2003.|

Introduction to a New Journal for Taphonomic Research.

Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Travis Rayne Pickering, Luis Alcalá.

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Quantification and Sampling of Faunal Remains in Owl Pellets.

R. Lee Lyman, Emma Power, R. Jay Lyman.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 1. APRIL 2003 (2 issue)

Paleozoologists and taphonomists have long recognized various properties of quantification and sampling with respect to collections they study. Those same properties attend samples of modern owl pellets. The particular skeletal elements identified and the way in which prey remains are grouped for tallying both influence measures of relative prey abundance in a collection of 56 barn-owl (Tyto alba) pellets from southeastern Washington. As the number of prey and the number of pellets in a collection increases across 107 published collections of North American barn-owl pellets, the richness of mammalian genera per collection increases. As the size of the most abundant prey taxon in a pellet collection decreases, the average number of individual prey per pellet increases. Pellets with more identifiable mammalian remains contain more individual prey. Larger pellets contain more individual prey than smaller pellets. These observations indicate that the properties of quantification and sampling so well known to paleozoologists can be created during the biostratinomic phase of a taphonomic history. Modern owl pellets are an excellent educational resource for teaching principles of taphonomy and zooarchaeology.

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Large Mammal Skeletal Element Transport: Applying Foraging Theory in a Complex Taphonomic System.

Curtis W. Marean, Naomi Cleghorn


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 1. APRIL 2003 (3 issue)

The transport and processing of large mammal carcasses by humans seems to provide a perfect data-set for the application of foraging theory. However, such applications in archaeology have generally been unsuccessful in that the results diverge widely from the predictions of foraging theory, and ethnographic applications have been rare and the results mixed. These applications require good estimates of skeletal element return rates, but to date we have insufficient net return rate data. Using some basic parameters we can rank skeletal elements by gross return rate, and classify them into high cost and low cost elements. We examine three of the best data-sets on hunter-gatherer skeletal element transport (Hadza, Nunamiut, and Kua), and find that the Nunamiut and Kua data diverge significantly from the Hadza data. We argue that this difference is not due to differences in skeletal element transport, but rather that the Hadza data-set represents observed instances of transport while the Nunamiut and Kua data-sets represent discarded bone assemblages that were scavenged by carnivores. Thus the Nunamiut and Kua sets represent a first stage in bone destruction after discard by people, and this would be followed by further destruction as such assemblages are transformed into archaeological samples. This result, when joined to taphonomic data on skeletal element survival, leads to a general model of bone survival that separates skeletal elements into two groups: 1) a low-survival set defined by a lack of non-cancellous thick cortical portions, and 2) a high-survival set defined by the presence of thick cortical bone portions lacking cancellous bone. The archaeological representation of the low survival set is primarily the product of post-discard destructive processes, and most low survival elements also belong to the high cost set. The relative abundance of the high survival elements in archaeological contexts is primarily the product of what was discarded after processing, and most of these belong to the low cost set. Foraging theory needs to be linked to the realities of skeletal element survival and destruction as understood in taphonomy, connecting the general and middle range theory, respectively. We need a synthetic taphonomic-foraging theory model, and we provide some foundations for that model here.

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Quantitative Fidelity of Brachiopod-Mollusk Assemblages from Modern Subtidal Environments of San Juan Islands, USA.

Michal Kowalewski, Monica Carroll, Lorraine Casazza, Neal S. Gupta, Bjarte Hannisdal, Austin Hendy, Richard A. Krause Jr., Michael LaBarbera, Dario G. Lazo, Carlo Messina, Stephaney Puchalski, Thomas A. Rothfus, Jenny Sälgeback, Jennifer Stempien, Rebecca C. Terry, Adam Tomašových.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 1. APRIL 2003 (4 issue)

Whereas a majority of previous fidelity studies have dealt exclusively with mollusks, this study evaluates the compositional fidelity of mixed brachiopod-mollusk benthic assemblages sampled from the San Juan Islands area (Washington State, USA). A total of ca. 2500 live specimens and over 7500 shells and shell fragments were recovered from nine samples dredged along a subtidal transect. The shell material was dominated by fragments; less than 500 dead specimens were represented by complete valves or shells. The compositional fidelity was high: over 60% of live species and over 70% of live genera were also found in the death assemblage and over 60% of dead species and genera were represented in the life assemblage. These high numbers were consistent for all analyzed size fractions (2.3, 4, and 12mm). The life and death assemblages displayed a significant Spearman rank correlation (r = 0.41, p = 0.0001) suggesting that, despite the biasing action of taphonomic processes and time-averaging, the relative abundance of species in the original communities is at least partly preserved in the resulting death assemblages. The results also indicate that a restrictive analytical approach, with fragments excluded from the datasets, appears to provide more credible estimates of diversity and fidelity than an exhaustive approach, which included all fragments. Differences between the two analytical strategies most likely reflect the presence of several genera (e.g., Chlamys), which were readily identifiable from fragments (the five most abundant species in the exhaustive death assemblage were all identifiable from even small and heavily altered fragments). The “Chlamys effect” illustrates a general principle, because species often vary in their morphological distinctness, the inclusion of fragments is likely to notably distort the taxonomic composition of the studied death (or fossil) assemblages and may depress estimates of diversity and evenness. This study suggests that mixed brachiopod-mollusk associations are reasonably well preserved in the death assemblage in terms of taxonomic composition and rank abundance of dominant taxa. Moreover, despite considerable microstructural and compositional differences between brachiopod and mollusk shells, the class-level fidelity is excellent when fragments are excluded from the analysis. The results are highly congruent with patterns observed previously in fidelity studies focused exclusively on mollusks.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner | Hungry Lions.

Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo.

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Volumen 1 Issue 2 Year 2003

2020-03-27T20:43:48+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 1. Issue 2. Year 2003.|

VOLUME 1. NUMBER 2. 2003

Decay and Disarticulation of Small Vertebrates in Controlled Experiments.

Leonard R. Brand, Michael Hussey, John Taylor.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 2. 2003 (1 issue)

A study was conducted to examine the timing and nature of decay and disarticulation in small vertebrates, using an experimental regime that allowed comparison among different environments, and different size classes of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Decay and disarticulation of freshly killed small vertebrates was documented in freshwater and seawater aquaria as well as outdoor terrestrial settings protected from scavengers by partially buried cages. Experimental animals included salamanders (two sizes), lizards, finches, doves, mice, rats, squirrels, and rabbits. The study area was hot and dry (southern California), with scattered winter rains. Some specimens of each species in the terrestrial environment were transferred after about one month to one of two other environments - freshwater, or an outdoor terrestrial cage simulating increased rainfall. In water the carcasses' flesh decayed by bacterial action in one to six months, but insect larvae removed the flesh from terrestrial carcasses within two weeks, leaving dry, desiccated carcasses that changed little over a four to 11 month period. The process of decay and disarticulation was greatly affected by differences in properties of the skin between species and the reaction of each type of skin to drying or water saturation. Disarticulation time was shortest in water, followed by the high rainfall treatment, then dry terrestrial environment. The sequence of disarticulation varied considerably, especially in the terrestrial treatment, but heads and limbs tended to separate from the body first, and then individual bones separated from the limbs. Also, the pattern of tooth loss or cracking differed among environments. These data provide an actualistic analogue to assist in the interpretation of some parameters of fossil assemblages, including maximum time between death and burial of partially or fully articulated small vertebrate fossils (about 3 months in water, but over a year in dry terrestrial conditions), or the likely paleoenvironment in which an assemblage accumulated.

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Observations on the Release of Gastroliths from Ostrich Chick Carcasses in Terrestrial and Aquatic Environments.

Oliver Wings


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 2. 2003 (2 issue)

The decomposition of two ostrich (Struthio camelus) chicks (body masses 2.1 kg and 11.5 kg) was observed in a terrestrial and an aquatic setting, respectively, in a hot and arid climate with temperatures ranging from 25-40°C. Special attention was given to the observation of the release of gastroliths from the body cavity. The results show that the gastroliths can be set free from carcasses with a body weight <12 kg after relatively short periods (3-6 days), and that a separation in an aquatic environment is likely because of prolonged floating of the carcass.

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Damage Inflicted upon Animal Bone by Wooden Projectiles: Experimental Results and Archaeological Implications.

Geoff M. Smith.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 2. 2003 (3 issue)

Experiments with lamb carcasses were used to investigate whether any identifiable "damage signatures" are imparted by wooden spears on bones and whether these differ between a javelin and a thrusting spear. The data from the experiments demonstrated no distinction in damage caused by the two types of spears. Both spears caused high frequencies of saw-toothed fractures on ribs and vertebrae and the javelin inflicted a spiral fracture on a humerus. However, the most conclusive evidence of projectile usage was in the form of puncture wounds on scapulae. Some of the experimental damage recorded is similar to that caused by other taphonomic processes. These experiments illustrate the effectiveness and durability of wooden spears as potential hunting implements and provide insight regarding the tools, technology and subsistence strategies of Middle and Late Pleistocene hominids.

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A Taphonomic Perspective on Oldowan Hominid Encroachment on the Carnivoran Paleoguild.

Briana L. Pobiner, Robert J. Blumenschine.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 2. 2003 (4 issue)

We argue that the evolutionary significance of prehistoric hominid carnivory will be better appreciated if taphonomic tests for evaluating the initial encroachment on the larger carnivoran paleoguild by Oldowan hominids are developed and applied to zooarchaeological assemblages. We propose that the development of taphonomic tests should be guided by three premises: 1) taphonomic measures used to test scenarios of hominid carnivory should be free of interpretive equifinalities; where equifinalities are currently suspected, these must be identified and broken; 2) carnivorans are not a single, homogeneous, taphonomic agent; actualistic research is needed to differentiate the preservable feeding traces of individual carnivore taxa; 3) multiple carnivore species should be assumed to have been involved in creation and modification of bone assemblages; the recognition of the timing and nature of the access of each carnivore to prey carcasses should be sought.
We offer some fundamental steps in developing a methodology to satisfy this research agenda, integrating information from naturalistic observations of carnivoran feeding on mammalian prey carcasses, actualistic studies that simulate the timing of hominid access to these prey carcasses, and functional aspects of presumed carnivoran paleoguilds defined by carcass size-specific edible tissue specialization and bone modification capabilities. We focus on skeletal element and element portion profiles in conjunction with the incidence, anatomical distribution and morphology of tooth marking as the relevant taphonomic measures. The ultimate goal is to diagnose and zooarchaeologically identify unambiguous traces of individual carnivoran taxa and ecological scenarios involving feeding sequences by multiple carnivore taxa, including hominids.

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Volumen 1 Issue 3 Year 2003

2020-03-27T20:44:09+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 1. Issue 3. Year 2003.|

VOLUME 1. NUMBER 3. 2003

Experimental Effects of Water Abrasion on Bone Fragments.

Yolanda Fernández-Jalvo


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 3. 2003 (1 issue)

Water transport is a frequent taphonomic agent in continental environments that may affect and disturb original bone associations. Fossil allochthony occurs as a result of resedimentation (before burial) and/or secondary deposition (after initial burial) altering palaeoenvironmental and palaeoecological indications provided by fossils. Skeletal element sorting or preferred orientations of fossils are evidence of fluvial transport as studied by several authors. Bone surface abrasion is another trait recorded on fossils that may provide evidence of water transport in a fossil association. Results of a preliminary experiment on the effects of abrasion have shown characteristic differences relating to the type of sediment (coarse to fine) and the type of bone involved (fresh, dry, weathered or fossil). This indicates that the effects and consequences of water transport on bone associations can be identified from traits of abrasion. This paper also considers other experiments involving abrasion on large and small mammal bones and owl pellets.

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Some Middle Paleozoic Conulariids (Cnidaria) as Possible Examples of Taphonomic Artifacts.

Marcello Guimarães Simões*, Sabrina Coelho Rodrigues, Juliana de Moraes Leme, Heyo Van Iten.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 3. 2003 (2 issue)

Conulariids provide good examples of how biometric and other characters that have been used to diagnose fossil species can be affected by taphonomic processes, possibly leading to the erection of taphonomic taxa, or taphonomic artifacts. Based on analysis of the taphonomy of Conularia quichua Ulrich from the Devonian Ponta Grossa of southern Brazil, we argue that caution must be exercised when using biometric and other characters to diagnose conulariid species. For example, measurements of the spacing of the transverse ribs must be corrected for compaction of the theca parallel to its long axis. C. quichua oriented at high angles to bedding almost always exhibit this kind of deformation, which if not corrected for results in substantial additional measurement error. Similarly, the value of the apical angle of C. quichua differs between compressed and uncompressed specimens, making it difficult to measure this character with a high degree of consistency and reproducibility. Other characters (geometry of the transverse ribs, presence or absence of interspace ridges and nodes) used to diagnose conulariids are susceptible to modification and information loss through weathering. In reviewing published descriptions of other conulariids, we have found that certain species may be taphotaxa. Future descriptions of new species should be based on collections encompassing the known spectrum of preservational patterns. Also, the erection of new conulariid taxa should be based as much as possible on complete or nearly complete specimens, and morphometric comparisons should be made using specimens showing similar patterns of preservation.

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Smothered Scampi: Taphonomy of Lobsters in the Upper Cretaceous Bearpaw Formation, Southern Alberta.

Cameron J. Tsujita.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 3. 2003 (3 issue)

Phosphatic concretions, containing remains of the lobster Palaeonephrops browni (Whitfield), are described from the Upper Cretaceous Bearpaw Formation of southern Alberta. Two modes of burial are interpreted to have enhanced the preservation potential of the lobsters: (1) burial of remains by volcanic ash, and (2) burial of remains within burrows due to sediment injection during storms. The latter mode of burial is indicated for the majority of the specimens studied, suggesting that the exceptional preservation of Palaeonephrops, and probably some other fossil decapod taxa may have been more strongly influenced by their life-habits than previously assumed. Within-burrow preservation of lobster specimens also demonstrates that obrution is not only important for the preservation of faunal elements residing on the sea-floor, but can also bias the preservation of some deep infaunal taxa. Following rapid burial, the preservation potential of the lobster remains was further enhanced by virtue of its phosphate-bearing cuticle, upon which, early diagenetic phosphate cements were preferentially precipitated. Further phosphate precipitation resulted in the entombment of the remains within phosphatic concretions, further protecting them from destructive taphonomic processes.

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Volumen 1 Issue 4 Year 2003

2020-03-27T20:44:33+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 1. Issue 4. Year 2003.|

VOLUME 1. NUMBER 4. 2003

Structural and Chemical Bone Modifications in a Modern Owl Pellet Assemblage from Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania).

Yannicke Dauphin, Peter Andrews, Christiane Denys, Yolanda Fernández-Jalvo, Terry Williams.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 4. 2003 (1 issue)

A modern regurgitation pellet assemblage created by an unknown avian predator from Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) was analyzed taphonomically and chemically. The combined use of several analytical techniques allowed us to determine some characteristic effects of bone surface modification induced by the predator´s digestive process. Based on these analyses, it is suggested that the predator is Bubo lacteus, Verreaux´s eagle owl. The chemical analyses of the mineral and organic components of the bones show only small changes in composition and proportion. However, the small alterations favour the hypothesis of post-predation diagenetic changes, which may create bias in the preservation of different types of bones.

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Taphonomy of Freshwater Turtles: Decay and Disarticulation in Controlled Experiments.

Leonard R. Brand, Michael Hussey, John Taylor.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 4. 2003 (2 issue)

We conducted an experimental study of the timing and nature of taphonomic processes in turtles that allowed a comparison among different environments. We documented decay and disarticulation of freshly-killed aquatic turtles in controlled settings, including freshwater and seawater aquaria, and outdoor terrestrial settings protected from scavengers. The study area was in hot and dry southern California, with scattered winter rains. We transferred some specimens after 53 days from the terrestrial environment to one of two other environments - freshwater, or an outdoor terrestrial cage - simulating increased rainfall. In water, turtle flesh decayed by bacterial action in three and a half to five months, but insect larvae removed the flesh from terrestrial carcasses within two weeks, leaving dry, desiccated carcasses. Turtles disarticulated most rapidly in water, followed by the high rainfall treatment, then dry terrestrial. The sequence of disarticulation of different bones from the body varied considerably, especially in the terrestrial treatment, but there were some consistent trends. Heads and necks, tails, and limbs tended to disarticulate early in the process. Next the carapace, and lastly, the plastron, disarticulated. Minor weathering occurred on the inside surface of some shell bones in the terrestrial environment. These data provide a basis for estimating maximum length of exposure of fossil turtles before burial and for comparison of turtle taphonomy with taphonomy of other small vertebrates.

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Biostratinomic Patterns in Archosaur Fossils: Influence of Morphological Organization on Dispersal.

Cambra-Moo, O. & Buscalioni, A. D.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 4. 2003 (3 issue)

The dispersal of 122 specimens of fossil archosaurs and lepidosaurians from different localities throughout the world, catalogued as fossil-lagerstätten, has been characterized. The analysis is based on the quantification of dispersal by the evaluation of burial position, anatomical disarticulation, overlap and significant absences of bony elements. Our goal is to identify commonalities of morphological organization, and to reveal dispersal patterns. First, we explore a theoretical space of burial positions, and seek logical alignments of variables in order to understand the sequence of the earliest biostratinomic phenomena. Dinosauria and the basal avian specimens (Archaeopteryx-like organisms) are biased towards lateral burials with crossed forelimbs or hindlimbs. Pterosauria and Ornithuromorpha have ambivalent burial positions, while Enantiornithes and Confuciusornithidae adopt preferentially dorso-ventral burial positions. There is a significantly negative regression coefficient relating overlap and disarticulation-absence. A high percentage overlap corresponds to a high percentage articulation and completeness of body elements, particularly in laterally lying fossils. Conversely, overlap and disarticulation are not significantly related in specimens with a dorso-ventral burial position. Ambivalence in burial positions is associated with singularities in disarticulation patterns. Aves and Pterosauria both diverge from the general disarticulation sequence of diapsids. The results indicate that dispersal has a strong biological component at least in the initial steps of the biostratinomic process.

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