Volumen 7. Issue 4. Year 2009.

2020-03-28T19:20:46+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 7. Issue 4. Year 2009.|

VOLUME 7. NUMBER 4. 2009

Decomposition and Disarticulation of Kangaroo Carcasses in Caves at Naracoorte, South Australia.

Elizabeth Reed


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

This paper presents the results of a study of decomposition and disarticulation of kangaroo carcasses in caves at Naracoorte, South Australia. Carcasses were placed in two caves and observed over a period of nearly three years. Decomposition progressed rapidly within the caves with almost immediate infestation by blowflies and fungi. Invertebrate activity had ceased by 28 months; however, fungal colonisation continued for the course of the study period. Decomposition, skeletonisation and disarticulation were complete by 600 days. The results suggest that temperature and humidity play an important role in decomposition as this directly affects the activity of invertebrate and fungal decomposers. The position of the carcass within the cave influences the degree of dispersal of remains in pitfall caves. Disarticulation sequences for the experimental carcasses compare with those for kangaroo skeletons on the land surface in semi-arid South Australia, suggesting that regardless of environment, anatomy is a key factor in determining disarticulation sequence. The results of this study have applications for the assessment of stratigraphic integrity and reworking of fossil deposits in caves at Naracoorte and elsewhere.

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Experimental Artifact Transport by Harvester Ants (Pogonomyrmex sp.): Implications for Patterns in the Archaeological Record.

Benjamin J. Schoville, Lucy E. Burris, Lawrence C. Todd.


[+info] VOLUME 7. ISSUE 4. 2009 (2 issue)

On the High Plains of North America the harvester ants Pogonomyrmex occidentalis and P. owyheei build large gravel covered nest mounds in which artifacts and small fossils are frequently deposited. The effect this mound building behavior has on the archaeological record has received little attention and has generally been viewed as restricted to subsurface tunneling disturbances. Initial experiments highlight the surface foraging behavior of harvester ants actively transporting artifacts during mound construction and maintenance. Non-food related foraging behavior was investigated by placing glass beads around ant mounds in various patterns to evaluate foraging distance, direction, density and distribution effects. Ants were observed to forage a maximum of 48 m from the nest but the majority of foraged materials were returned from within 20 m, regardless of density, direction, or distribution differences. Of 812 individual mounds recorded during an extensive landscape survey, 134 contained anthropogenic debris. Additionally, mounds tend to form near disturbed and eroding soils which enhance the opportunity for ants to acquire actively exposed artifacts during foraging for mound construction material. These characteristics of harvester ant foraging effectively create highly visible loci of small artifact concentrations that are otherwise poorly represented by traditional pedestrian surveys. Understanding the taphonomic signature of harvester ant artifact transport should aid in refining interpretations of artifact patterning observed in archaeological contexts.

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Home Sharing: Carnivores in Anthropogenic Assemblages of the Middle Pleistocene.

Jordi Rosell, Ruth Blasco.


[+info] VOLUME 7. ISSUE 4. 2009 (3 issue)

The Middle Pleistocene is a period with a great variability of carnivores. Different species of big cats, hyaenids, bears and canids are common in faunal lists of anthropogenic assemblages. This phenomenon raised a discussion about the relationships between carnivores and hominids. This paper aims to provide data to understand the presence of carnivore remains or the elements generated by them in Middle Pleistocene anthropogenic assemblages. We analyze two Spanish sites for this specific work: TD10-sup of Gran Dolina (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos) and Level XII of the Bolomor Cave (Valencia, Spain). The origin of both accumulations is due to the predatory activities of humans and carnivores´ incidence is very low. The main objective of this study is to determine the role of predators in these accumulations and to evaluate their relationship with human communities. The anatomical representation of carcases, the age of death of animals, the identification of anthropogenic marks and tooth marks, and the morphology of the latter suggest the existence of marauding small scavengers. These animals visited the cavities once abandoned by hominids. From this perspective, we think that there are not direct relationships in the form of interaction between both biological entities.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Ants as taphonomic agents.

Benjamin J. Schoville, Paul Burnett, Lucy E. Burris, Lawrence C. Todd.


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Volumen 9. Issue 1. Year 2011.

2020-03-28T19:21:40+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 9. Issue 1. Year 2011.|

VOLUME 9. NUMBER 1. 2011

How Can Taphonomy Be Defined in the XXI Century?

Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Sixto Fernández-López, Luis Alcalá.


[+info] VOLUME 9. ISSUE 1. 2011 (1 issue)

Taphonomy, as a branch of learning and a research area, has undergone a tremendous growth in the past few decades. It has extended its application from palaeontology to other disciplines, it has broadened its referential scope and has incorporated humans as taphonomic agents. This has affected the way taphonomy is perceived by its practitioners and requires a modification of its definition, following a process that is common in most evolving natural science disciplines.

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Badger (Meles meles) Remains Within Caves as an Analytical Tool to Test the Integrity of Stratified Sites: The Contribution of Unikoté Cave (Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France).

Jean-Baptiste Mallye


[+info] VOLUME 9. ISSUE 1. 2011 (2 issue)

This papers deals with the analysis of Eurasian badger (Meles meles) remains in an archaeological context. Eurasian badgers dig large burrows as living structures and so the identification of their remains in archaeological context appears doubtful. More than 400 remains of these small carnivores were recovered from Unikoté Cave. This site is assumed to be a hyena den with the occurrence of human remains and lithic artefacts. In this paper, we aimed to: 1) explain how and why so many remains of these carnivores are recognised at Unikoté Cave; 2) evaluate the role of Eurasian badgers in site formation processes and 3) to test the archaeological relevance of a bioturbated site.

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A Taphonomic Study of Wild Wolf (Canis lupus) Modification of Horse Bones in Northwestern Spain.

José Yravedra, Laura Lagos, Felipe Bárcena.


[+info] VOLUME 9. ISSUE 1. 2011 (3 issue)

Taphonomic studies of carnivores have become an integral part of taphonomic research in the past two decades. These studies are developing a referential framework for the identification of carnivore signature variety in the fossil record. Hyaenas and felids are predominant in these studies, whereas other carnivores such as wolves have not received as much attention yet. This paper analyses wild horse carcasses processed by wild wolves and discusses the implications for the study of site formation in the Euroasian Pleistocene. Carcasses have undergone different kinds of consumption by wild wolves and show important differences in the degree of bone modification according to wolf hunting and scavenging strategies. The different degree of bone destruction when consumed in one or many events is also discussed.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Fossil microorganisms.

María Dolores Pesquero


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Volumen 10. Issue 2. Year 2012.

2020-03-28T19:22:55+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 10. Issue 2. Year 2012.|

VOLUME 10. NUMBER 2. 2012

Can Colour Be Used as a Proxy for Paleoenvironmental Reconstructions Based on Archaeological Bones? El Harhoura 2 (Morocco) Case Study.

Yannicke Dauphin, Roland Nespoulet, Emmanuelle Stoetzel, Mohamed Abdeljalil el Hajraoui, Christiane Denys.


[+info] VOLUME 10. ISSUE 2. 2012 (1 issue)

The El Harhoura 2 cave (Temara region, Morocco) has yielded abundant micromammal remains. Eleven sedimentary layers have been identified in the Late Pleistocene-Middle Holocene series. Rodent bones show various colours from white to black. Conodont colour alteration index is a widely used technique for assessing maturation and diagenesis. Despite fossil and archaeological bones may be black due to mineral staining (manganese) or burning, a similar index does not exist. We perform colour measurements in the visible light of the external surface of archaeological Meriones bones. Specific wavelengths were then selected for multivariate statistical analyses to try to characterize and differentiate the sedimentary layers. In this preliminary study, the origin of the colour is not yet known, despite some spots are Mn deposits. In the future, we hope that colour measurement, a non destructive analysis, will be used as a taphonomic index to estimate the state of preservation and history of fossil and archaeological sites.

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Recent Indian Porcupine (Hystrix indica) Burrows and their Impact on Ancient Faunal and Human Remains: A Case Study from Tel Zahara (Israel).

Liora Kolska Horwitz, Susan L. Cohen, Wieslaw Wi?ckowski, Henk K. Mienis, Jill Baker, Emilia Jastrzebska.


[+info] VOLUME 10. ISSUE 2. 2012 (2 issue)

It has long been known that porcupines accumulate and modify bones, but few actualistic studies on the contents of porcupine burrows have been undertaken. Here we present the results of an investigation of recent Indian porcupine (Hystrix indica) burrows that riddle the archaeological site of Tel Zahara (Israel). Faunal remains were recovered from the den entrances and inside a burrow system that we excavated. Bones exhibiting typical porcupine gnaw-damage i.e., flat-bottomed parallel grooves, were recovered from all dens, but no clear porcupine damage was evident on human osteological remains that were encountered by the porcupines during excavation of their dens. The surface patina of many of the bones is dark, signifying long-term burial, and is probably indicative of their archaeological origin. Porcupine gnawed areas on these bones are lighter in colour and so post-date the patina. Compared to the Roman period deposits on the tel, the den assemblage contains significantly higher numbers of wild taxa, a lower proportion of large-sized taxa, but a similar proportion of bones of medium-sized taxa, suggesting preferential selection of smaller-sized bones. Both tel and den deposits comprise similar frequencies of burnt bones and body part breakdowns are alike. As expected, higher frequencies of rodent and carnivore gnawed bones were found in the den samples. The results suggest that the porcupine burrow sample is a selected sub-set of the Roman faunal assemblage from the tel. This study has led us to conclude that the Indian porcupine plays a significant role as an agent of bioturbation of archaeological sediments and also as a collector and modifier of bones.

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With Only One Flake. An Experiment About the Possibilities of Processing a Carcass with Flint during Hunting.

Santiago David Domínguez-Solera.


[+info] VOLUME 10. ISSUE 2. 2012 (3 issue)

Inspired on the present Inuit hunting techniques, a small experiment was designed to estimate the extent of butchery that could be carried out with only one flint flake in the process of preparing a female fallow deer (Dama dama) for transportation. The results are useful to understand the potential and economy of flint flakes in prehistoric times.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Out-of-water shells.

Juan Carlos Braga


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Volumen 15. Issue 1-3. Year 2017.

2020-03-28T19:24:21+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 15. Issue 1-3. Year 2017.|

Volumen 15. Number 1-3. Year 2017.

Introduction to the special issue Actualistic Taphonomy in Argentina: Current Status of the Research and Future Perspectives.

Daniela Alunni, María Clara Álvarez.


[+info] VOLUME 15. ISSUE 1. 2017 (1 issue)

The Salado River Depression was inhabited during the Late Holocene (2400-400 14C YBP) by pottery-maker societies with a hunting-gathering-fishing lifeway. The archaeological remains are deposited in the A horizon of the modern soil, which constitutes a "biomantle" as pedogenetic formation processes predominate. These include an intense biological activity produced by the action of roots and edaphic fauna that promote displacements of objects and their sinking to different depths. Hence the archaeological sites of this microregion are shallow. In order to broaden the knowledge about the action of earthworms in these sites, an actualistic taphonomy experiment was designed. The goal was to observe the activity of these invertebrates and to evaluate their possible incidence as a disturbing agent on small bones deposited on a soil. The aim of this paper is to introduce the methodological design of this experimentation and present the preliminary results. For this purpose, two containers with sediment containing humus and earthworms were placed in the open air. Some selected bones of Dasypus hybridus and Gallus gallus were deposited in each container. The activity of earthworms was observed along one year with a weekly record and was detected as deep as 16 cm. Other features associated -such as burrows- were documented, especially in autumn and winter. No modifications were identified on bone cortical surfaces, though vertical movement of some elements through the sediment is highlighted.

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Actualistic Study of a Dense Concentration of Bone Remains in the Central Plateau of Santa Cruz Province (Argentina).

Laura Marchionni, Eloisa García Añino, Laura Miotti.


[+info] VOLUME 15. ISSUE 1. 2017 (2 issue)

This work analyzes a modern bone concentration at Cueva 7, in Los Toldos archaeological locality, as part of the taphonomic studies that we have carried out in the northeast of the Central Plateau of Santa Cruz province (Argentina). The goal of this work is to identify the actualistic taphonomic patterns that can contribute to a better interpretation of the archaeological sites in caves or rock shelters where piles or dense bone concentrations were registered in the study region. From the identification of different taxonomic, anatomic, mortality, and bone modification patterns in this highly-dense accumulation, we evaluate the possible causes of its formation, and produce actualistic information which may be of use to learn about the different processes that accumulate and scatter zooarchaeological remains in the cave environments of the study area. The results show a monospecific assemblage integrated by no less than 43 Ovis aries individuals whose death was natural. The accumulation is characterized by a natural disarticulation pattern, which appears to be more accelerated in appendicular elements, a homogenous weathering profile with minor differences that may be associated with the microenvironments recorded inside the cave, and the very low incidence of natural agents, where trampling was the highest. This work thus provides valuable actualistic information that can be used as a parameter in the determination of possible natural contamination in archaeological contexts.

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Naturalistic Observations on the Disarticulation of False Killer Whales (Pseudorca crassidens) Carcasses: Fifteen Years After.

Florencia Borella, Luis A. Borrero.


[+info] VOLUME 15. ISSUE 1. 2017 (3 issue)

A mass stranding of 181 false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) occurred in March 1989 on both sides of the Strait of Magellan. Fifteen years later, taphonomic observations were made on this concentration and the results are presented in this article. In the coast of Bahía Lomas, Tierra del Fuego (Chile), frequencies of articulated elements were quantified following Hill (1979a, 1979b), and a ranking of natural bone disarticulation for whales was proposed. This ranking was made on the basis of skeletons from one species but, given the morphological similarities of Cetaceae, it is possible to suggest that it applies to similarly-sized Odontoceti. Together with other useful taphonomic criteria (weathering and bone preservation), these results can be used to disentangle the origin of whale bone accumulations at coastal archaeological sites in different parts of the world and to estimate the time of burial of zooarchaeological assemblages. In this way, the role of whales in human diet can be discussed in greater detail.

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Natural Accumulation and Distribution of Guanaco Bones in the Southernmost Tip of Tierra del Fuego (Argentina): Taphonomic Analysis and Archaeological Implications.

Daniela V. Alunni, María A. Gutiérrez, Atilio F. Zangrando.


[+info] VOLUME 15. ISSUE 1. 2017 (4 issue)

In this study we evaluate modern accumulation, dispersion and preservation patterns of guanaco bones (Lama guanicoe) and discuss their implications for the zooarchaeological record of coastal Tierra del Fuego in southern South America. We surveyed four environmental units: the supra-tidal zone, forests, grasslands, and peat bogs. The guanaco assemblages consist of both disarticulated and articulated bones, most represented by limbs and heads (only two nearly complete carcasses were recorded). Natural processes such as marine abrasion largely affected the preservation of specimens, while weathering is a conspicuous effect observed on bones from the forest. Age and sex profiles, as well as variability in preservation, reflect attritional deaths in different time periods. The guanaco seems to be found regularly along the southeast coasts, being an available resource for coastal and marine hunter-gatherers with relatively narrow foraging ranges. The presence of guanaco is higher during autumn and winter. Bone remains are subject to vertical migration in peat bogs, grasslands and other soft substrates, allowing time-averaging of faunal assemblage formations.

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Taphonomic Effects of a Grassland Fire on a Modern Faunal Sample and its Implications for the Archaeological Record.

María C. Álvarez, Agustina Massigoge, Nahuel Scheifler, Mariela E. Gonzalez, Cristian Kaufmann, María A. Gutiérrez, Daniel J. Rafuse.


[+info] VOLUME 15. ISSUE 1. 2017 (5 issue)

The main objective of this paper is to characterize the pattern of thermal alteration in a sample of modern bones collected after a natural grassland fire in the Pampas region (Argentina). A total of 917 bone remains were recovered, including a variety of different body size taxa. Results suggest that natural grassland fires affect bone remains in a more severe way than previously documented. In general, a high proportion of bones with thermal alteration (70%) was recorded for the different body size categories, with calcined bones dominating the sample. Some differences in relation to the size classes were found; specifically, a higher extension of burning was recorded for the smaller-sized taxa. For the small animals, the homogeneous distribution of the burning damage in long bones and mandibles could help to differentiate a natural grassland fire from cooking, in which the burning pattern would be more heterogeneous.

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The Role of the Accipitriformes Geranoaetus melanoleucus and Geranoaetus polyosoma as Small Mammal Bones Accumulators in Modern and Archaeological Sites from Central Western Argentina.

José Manuel López, Fernando J. Fernández, Claudia I. Montalvo, Horacio Chiavazza, Luciano, J.M. De Santis.


[+info] VOLUME 15. ISSUE 1. 2017 (6 issue)

Results of the taphonomic analysis of small mammal bone accumulations generated by the accipitriforms Geranoaetus melanoleucus and Geranoaetus polyosoma in several areas from Central Western Argentina (Mendoza Province) are presented here. In order to identify the role that these predators had in the formation of zooarchaeological assemblages, the anatomical representation, bone breakage patterns, and degrees of digestive corrosion were evaluated. According to these taphonomic variables, both G. melanoleucus and G. polyosoma may be placed in the Category 4 (heavy) of modification of prey bones. The results presented here were used as an analytical model for the interpretation of the micromammal fossil record from three archaeological sites in Mendoza Province. This comparison suggests that the skeletal remains recovered from one archaeological site are very close to those produced by G. polyosoma. However, accumulations from the other sites had intermediate values between those of G. polyosoma and G. melanoleucus.

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First Steps into the Microscopic Metrical Characterization of Bone Weathering in a Sample of Modern Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) from Southern Patagonia, Argentina: Implications for Patterns of Intraosseous Differential Preservation.

Natalia Morales, Gustavo Barrientos, Juan Bautista Belardi.


[+info] VOLUME 15. ISSUE 1. 2017 (7 issue)

In many southern Patagonia archaeological bone assemblages deposited in open-air settings, a remarkable difference in preservation between shafts and epiphyses of guanaco (Lama guanicoe) long bones, leading to an overrepresentation of the latter, has been found. It has been suggested that, in dynamic sedimentary deposits like those investigated in this region, the observed pattern is mainly related to subaerial weathering or to a combination of weathering and abrasion preferentially affecting long bone shafts, processes that may have little relationship with bone mineral density (BMD). In order to investigate in more detail the relationship between weathering and bone mineral density (BMD) and cortical thickness in guanaco long bones, a microscopic (low magnification) metrical analysis of partial cross-sections from a sample of modern radii-ulnae with a various degrees of weathering was performed. Overall, the obtained results suggest that subaerial weathering can suffice to explain the observed archaeological pattern of differential intraosseous preservation, although this inference should be further supported with data from a larger sample including other long bones as well as a more complete record of the weathering sequence.

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Four Decades of Actualistic Carnivore Taphonomy in the Southern Neotropics: A State of the Art.

Mariana Mondini.


[+info] VOLUME 15. ISSUE 1. 2017 (8 issue)

Based on a bibliographic survey, this paper reviews the state of the art of actualistic taphonomic information of different autochthonous mammalian carnivores in the southern Neotropics. The characteristics of this corpus of data and its implications for the fossil record are analysed. The paper focuses on identifying and discussing those areas of research that are robustly reflected by existing studies. Synthetic discussion of the results of research on the most studied carnivore taxa, types of bone assemblages, actualistic approaches, and ecological zones in the region are presented. While the field of actualistic taphonomic research is well-developed in the region, there are several gaps that require more attention for the future investigation.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Regional Taphonomy of cetaceans bones in the «Uttermost part of the earth».

Florencia Borella.


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