Volumen 1 Number 3 Year 2003

2019-11-06T21:34:05+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 1. Number 3. Year 2003.|

VOLUME 1. NUMBER 3. 2003

Experimental Effects of Water Abrasion on Bone Fragments.

Yolanda Fernández-Jalvo


[+info] VOLUME 1. NUMBER 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. NUMBER 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. NUMBER 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 3. Number 2-3. Year 2005.

2019-11-19T12:51:14+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 3. Number 2-3. Year 2005.|

VOLUME 3. NUMBER 2-3. 2005 [Special Issue: On Archaeology and Actualism Editors: Briana Pobiner & David Braun

Special Issue. On Archaeology and Actualism Editors: Briana Pobiner & David BraunEditors: Briana Pobiner & David Braun.

Applying Actualism: Considerations for Future Research.

Briana L. Pobiner, David R. Braun.


[+info] VOLUME 3. NUMBERS 2-3. 2005 (1 issue)

This paper serves as an introduction and discussion of a collection of five papers originally presented in a symposium held at the 69th meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in 2004 entitled "Applied actualism: Experimental studies of hominid activity traces". These papers primarily present actualistic studies aimed at addressing questions of hominin carcass processing activities, generally using cutmark data. They serve as a reminder of the utility and importance of actualistic studies to test hypotheses of hominin behavior using zooarchaeological and taphonomic data. We review the manner in which actualism is used in these various studies of human butchery practices to construct models to generate test implications for the archaeological record. Finally, some considerations for future actualistic work are discussed.

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The Impact of Post-Depositional Processes on Bone Surface Modification Frequencies: A Corrective Strategy and its Application to the Loiyangalani Site, Serengeti Plain, Tanzania.

Jessica C. Thompson


[+info] VOLUME 3. NUMBERS 2-3. 2005 (2 issue)

The frequencies of surface modification such as percussion, cut, and tooth marks on experimental faunal assemblages are not always directly comparable to those in fossil assemblages. Extensive post-depositional modification of bone surfaces may render many of these marks unidentifiable, depressing the overall frequencies or affecting some mark classes more than others. An analysis of the fauna from an open-air Middle Stone Age site on the Loiyangalani River in the Serengeti Plain, Tanzania, illustrates this point. A coding system is presented here that allows the elimination of heavily affected fragments from analysis so that the observed mark frequencies can more closely approximate their original ones.

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The Physics of Cutmarks.

Sheridan L. Potter


[+info] VOLUME 3. NUMBERS 2-3. 2005 (3 issue)

Cutmarks are the most direct evidence of faunal butchery by humans. However, the physical properties of the creation of cutmarks are currently poorly understood. Experiments to quantify the minimum amount of force required to cut through muscle tissue and to produce a visible cutmark on the surface of bone were conducted. Those force values were then correlated with the maximum amount of force exerted by a human butchering with a stone tool. By quantifying such data, archaeologists can better understand the conditions conducive to creating cutmarks. Results show: 1) less force is required to cut through soft tissue when using obsidian as opposed to chert flakes; 2) the average depth of a visible cutmark is 65-80 mm; and 3) on average males can exert a greater maximum force using both large and small stone tools than females, but both can exert forces that far exceed the minimum force requirements tested in this experiment. These results present compelling data regarding the physical processes and agents involved in the formation of a cutmark on a bone, and offer incentive for future studies to be conducted.

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Strengthening the Inferential Link Between Cutmark Frequency Data and Oldowan Hominid Behavior: Results From Modern Butchery Experiments.

Briana L. Pobiner, David R. Braun.


[+info] VOLUME 3. NUMBERS 2-3. 2005 (4 issue)

Cutmark frequencies are often cited in discussions of Oldowan hominid behavior, yet their interpretation remains enigmatic. To strengthen inferences derived from cutmark data, we conducted experiments with Turkana butchers. We test two hypotheses: (1) cutmark frequency is related to the amount of meat present, and (2) cutmark frequency is related to the size of the bone/carcass being butchered. Hypothesis 1 is not supported, while hypothesis 2 is supported. We document a positive correlation between bone/carcass size and cutmark frequency. We therefore advocate treating bones/carcasses of different sizes as analytically discrete units.

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A Study of Cut Marks on Small-Sized Carcasses and its Application to the Study of Cut-Marked Bones from Small Mammals at the FLK Zinj Site.

Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Rebeca Barba.


[+info] VOLUME 3. NUMBERS 2-3. 2005 (5 issue)

Studies of cut marks have long been the subject of controversy regarding their ability to infer hominid carcass exploitation behavior, and the interaction between hominids and carnivores. Previous studies have emphasized the usefulness of cut mark frequency and distribution to reconstruct hominid access to carcasses. Still, one pending issue is how cut mark patterns vary between different carcass sizes (small versus large). This work presents new experimental results in which cut marks on small-sized carcasses are analysed and compared to both 1) experimental samples with larger-sized animals, and 2) the FLK 22 (Zinj) Plio-Pleistocene archaeological site.

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Application of Return Rates to Large Mammal Butchery and Transport among Hunter-gatherers and its Implications for Plio-Pleistocene Hominid Carcass.

Foraging and Site Use.

Charles P. Egeland, Ryan M. Byerly.


[+info] VOLUME 3. NUMBERS 2-3. 2005 (6 issue)

The butchery and bone transport behavior of Plio-Pleistocene hominids has sparked much debate among paleoanthropologists because of the implications these behaviors have for hominid site use and socio-ecology. Contemporary hunter-gatherers provide useful test cases for zooarchaeologists interested in modeling these behaviors prehistorically. Among the set of available utility indices meant to aid in predictions of carcass resource use, return rates may be the most useful, as they estimate the net gain associated with nutrient extraction. This study presents experimentally-derived post encounter return rates associated with the butchery of meat-bearing appendicular skeletal elements from Size Class 2, 3 and 4 ungulates. Combining these new data with published data on marrow extraction allows composite return rates to be calculated. This study applies these data to ethnoarchaeological reports of bone transport among Hadza (Tanzania) and Kua (Botswana) hunter-gatherers. Results indicate that return rate does not systematically correlate with appendicular bone transport among contemporary foragers, suggesting: (1) the difference between zooarchaeologically-meaningful (i.e. individual skeletal elements and element portions) and behaviorally-meaningful (i.e. articulated limb segments) units of analysis exaggerate the differential transport potentials of these skeletal elements and (2) maximizing caloric gain per unit time at the site of carcass acquisition may not be a primary goal. Return rates also do not significantly correlate with skeletal part abundances from a number of important Plio-Pleistocene sites. This in turn suggests that current return rate data are probably not comprehensive enough to adequately account for the many variables influencing transport decisions. Given these findings, we suggest that return rates may be more productively applied to questions of carcass processing instead of carcass transport. Addressing these questions requires an analytical shift from skeletal part abundances to hominid-inflicted bone damage. We therefore integrate experimental return rates with data on surface modifications from some Plio-Pleistocene assemblages and examine the implications for hominid carcass processing and site use.

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Volumen 7. Number 2-3. Year 2009.

2019-11-06T22:46:10+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 7. Number 2-3. Year 2009.|

VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2-3. 2009 [TAPHOS'08]

TAPHOS’08: an Introduction to a Special Volume of Journal of Taphonomy.

Julio Aguirre


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Charcoal Taphonomy: The Study of the Cell Structure and Surface Deformations of Pinus sylvestris type for the Understanding of Formation Processes of Archaeological Charcoal Assemblages.

Ethel Allué, Itxaso Euba, Alex Solé.


[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2&3. 2009 (2 issue)

In this work we present the anthracological and taphonomical study of charcoal assemblages. The charcoal assemblages come from archaeological sites at the NE Iberian Peninsula and include Palaeolithic and historical sites. All these assemblages share the same records, being Pinus sylvestris type the most significant taxa, which has permitted to classify some of the alterations produced on the cell structure. The analysis of P. sylvestris type wood cell structure from a taphonomic point of view has permitted to classify the modifications and their origin. The processes under which charcoal assemblages are affected are wood decay, combustion and post-depositional processes. The analysis of these charcoals has contributed to the understanding of the formation processes of the assemblages. In this sense, the archaeological context and the study of the alteration origin has permitted to observe wood qualities used for firewood and constructive structures. Moreover it permits to understand combustion processes related to fire structures (simple fire structures, kilns, furnaces) and constructive structures.

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Age of Death and Seasonality Based on Ungulate Tooth Remains from the Upper Pleistocene Site of Valdegoba (Burgos, Spain).

Diego Arceredillo Alonso, Carlos Díez Fernández-Lomana.


[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2&3. 2009 (3 issue)

The small Valdegoba cave has yielded many fossils remains since the first excavations in 1987. Homo neanderthalensis is the most characteristic species in this large assemblage of carnivore, herbivore, microfauna and avifauna fossils. Ungulates are the predominant group, with greater abundance of dental remains than postcraneal bones. A study comparing dental eruption patterns with stages of dental wear in each species shows that age of death can also be determined. The analysis shows that both immatures and young adults are predominant. Cervus elaphus shows a clearly seasonal mortality pattern. On the other hand, Rupicapra rupicapra and Capra pyrenaica shows an annual distribution. This could indicate that C. elaphus accumulation could be anthropic, whereas a variety of agents could be involved in the case of chamois and goat.

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Skin and Bones: Taphonomy of a Medieval Tannery in Hungary.

László Bartosiewicz.


[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2&3. 2009 (4 issue)

Taphonomy in medieval archaeology is far more than the post mortem history of animal remains. In addition to material evidence, parallel data are also available in the form of documentary as well as iconographic sources. However, similarly to animal bones, such data are also prone to selective taphonomic processes. This paper is a taphonomic analysis of animal remains from an excavation with both written records and lacunae in the written records in order to reconstruct the existence of a special craft, tanning. Excavations near Baj in Central Hungary revealed the remains of a small, 15th-16th century manorial settlement at the site of Öreg-Kovács-hegy. The 3,174 (146.8 kg) identifiable animal bones were dominated by cattle remains (NISP=1,969; 105.4 kg), while red deer was also well-represented (NISP=257; 16.2 kg). Even horse bones were relatively numerous (NISP=77; 10.6 kg). The anatomical composition, pattern of butchery, and spatial distribution of bones indicated that many of them were not ordinary food remains but probably tannery refuse. Although this activity was not mentioned in written records, archaeozoological observations complement the discovery of circular features at the site, interpreted as lime pits. Tanning was chosen as a paradigmatic activity that leaves both specific archaeological and archaeozoological markers. In addition to establishing diagnostic osteological criteria indicative of tanning, the selective survival and reliability of the different types of evidence (written, iconographic, architectural) are also indirectly compared.

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Toothmarks on Micromammal Remains from Level TE9 of Sima del Elefante (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain).

Mª de Lluc Bennàsar, Isabel Cáceres, Gloria Cuenca-Bescós, Juan Rofes.


[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2&3. 2009 (5 issue)

Small toothmarks on Talpa cf. T. europaea humerus have been identified during the taphonomical study of the micromammal remains found in Sima del Elefante site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos). Toothmarks have been compared to Mustela nivalis modern molars and to Mustela palerminea and Beremendia fissidens fossil remains in order to identify the predator producing the marks. The results indicate that marks were produced by a smaller predator than Mustela, and resemble more to those produced by B. fissidens. This insectivorous species is smaller than Talpa and has a poison injector apparatus that allows it to hunt preys which double its own size. Ethological characteristics of predators and B. fissidens physical features seem to point to this insectivore as the agent responsible for the Talpa humerus toothmarks at Sima del Elefante TE9 level.

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The Paradox of Barren Ancient Rocky Shores in the Western Mediterranean.

Juan C. Braga, Antonio Checa, Julio Aguirre.


[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2&3. 2009 (6 issue)

Encrusting coralline red algae cover significant proportions of the surface of rocky walls, blocks, and boulders in the mid- and infralittoral zones in present-day temperate seas. Despite the common occurrence of their living counterparts, examples of fossil coralline plants attached to rock surfaces in ancient temperate shores are very scarce and can be considered cases of exceptional preservation. In the Mediterranean region, however, the most frequent encrusting species have existed at least since the Miocene; they comprise heavily calcified plants which, a priori, should have a high preservation potential. In fact, fossil representatives of these species are relatively common as components of rhodoliths (algal nodules) and bioclastic deposits. In addition, palaeocliffs and ancient rocky shores are widespread in Neogene and Quaternary basins around the Mediterranean Sea. The key feature explaining the low preservation potential of encrusting corallines as in-situ growths, based on observation of algae on submarine rock surfaces in the Cabo de Gata area in SE Spain, seems to be the adhesion mechanism. The organic adhesion substance decays after death, and the plant is then removed by grazers or simply falls to the bottom. No abiotic or biologically induced cementation prevents detachment of a dead plant and there is no accretion of the coralline cover on the rock surface. The plant debris is incorporated into the sediment around the rocky substrate and the algal fragments undergo later taphonomic processes asloose bioclasts.

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Disarticulation and Dispersal Processes of Cervid Carcass at the Bosque de Riofrío (Segovia, Spain).

Isabel Cáceres, Montserrat Esteban-Nadal, Mª de Lluc Bennàsar, Yolanda Fernández-Jalvo.


[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2&3. 2009 (7 issue)

The Bosque de Riofrio, a natural forest and reserve in Spain (Segovia), has a wide population of red deer and fallow deer. The park, open to the public during the day light, has an extensive area restricted to the staff that take care of these wild animals in wild conditions. Carcasses derived from natural deaths are recorded by the park rangers, as population control, but left exposed to natural conditions and preserved by them from human entries. Since 2000 we are carrying out a project on dispersal and disarticulation of carcasses. Red fox and vultures also inhabit the reserve and scavenge these carcasses. We are here referring in this paper to a particular specimen (RF8), an adult male red deer, exposed along a period of 2 and half years, and monitored by us. During the first stages, the foxes acceded to RF8 producing toothmarks and contributing to the disarticulation and dispersal of carcass. In the last stages, the toothmarks identifies were produced by herbivores.

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“I Hunt Chickens, Men Hunt Me.” The Biostratinomy of a Shot Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes L.) – A Case Study.

Erika Gál


[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2&3. 2009 (8 issue)

In this paper the author presents the decay process of a shot red fox that decomposed in a temperate forest environment during 2004. Close-up pictures taken regularly are compared with meteorological data concerning temperature and precipitation during the period of investigation. Since neither human- or other vertebrate disturbance, nor water transport or considerable wind affected the body, its complete decay in naturally sheltered conditions (light undergrowth in a wooded area) took about seven month. Due to the unusually warm and humid weeks at the end of the winter and early spring in 2004, however, autolysis, microbial decay and invertebrate scavenging resulted in the complete decomposition of soft tissues in three months. Since red fox is a facultative commensal animal with burrowing habits, its remains are difficult to interpret in archaeological deposits. Such actualistic observations and experiments may help understanding the origin and role of fox remains found at and around ancient human settlements.

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Mineralogical, Elemental and Chemical Composition of Dinosaur Bones from Teruel (Spain).

Luis Luque, Luis Alcalá, Luis Mampel, Mª Dolores Pesquero, Rafael Royo-Torres, Alberto Cobos, Eduardo Espílez, Ana González, Daniel Ayala.


[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2&3. 2009 (9 issue)

A detailed study has been carried out on 25 samples of dinosaur bone fragments which come from 8 sites belonging to six stratigraphic units that span from the Tithonian (Upper Jurassic) to Albian (Lower Cretaceous) in the province of Teruel, Spain. The aim of the study is to further understand the mineralogical, elemental and chemical composition of the bones which come from different depositional environments and try to determine the processes which created this composition starting from the initial biogenic phosphate. A diversity of chemical compositions within the same sedimentary environment, within the same site and even within the same fossil is documented. This supports the idea that fossilization and postmortem diagenesis is not a homogeneous process. The compositions of bones varied widely in their proportions of francolite, dahllite and hydroxyapatite phosphates. The most common cement is calcite but the presence of unidentified iron oxides is also very frequent. Haematite or barite cements are found more rarely. The association between the authigenic minerals kaolinite and palygorskite provides information about the geochemical processes occurring in the microenvironment of fossilization, and the presence of iron oxides, pyrite or barite is informative of microbial activity. Furthermore, different sources for fossils from a same site can potentially be differentiated. In sum, a direct relationship between the mineralogy of the bone and cement composition and the sedimentary environment cannot be inferred.

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Butchery, Cooking and Human Consumption Marks on Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) Bones: An Experimental Study.

Lluís Lloveras, Marta Moreno-García, Jordi Nadal.


[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2&3. 2009 (10 issue)

An experimental study was conducted to assess the taphonomic signature derived from anthropic activities on rabbit bones. Nine wild European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) individuals were butchered using lithic tools, four were cooked and three of them were consumed by people. Cut marks resulting from skinning, disarticulation and defleshing as well as cooking damage and tooth marks caused by consumption were analysed and evaluated. Results show that butchery marks can be relatively abundant. Their location, intensity and orientation may differ according to the activity that caused them: skinning, disarticulation or defleshing of the carcass. Cooking damage is evidenced by specific burnt areas on the extremities of the bones. Tooth marks are scarce and often difficult to detect. They occur especially on long bones, with tooth pits being the most abundant type of damage. Finally, we attempt to address the way in which these marks can be archaeologically identified.

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Taphonomic Study of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic Large Mammal Assemblage from Tournal Cave (Bize-Minervois, France).

Pierre Magniez


[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2&3. 2009 (11 issue)

The Tournal Cave (southern France) presents an important Late Pleistocene stratigraphic record of human occupations dated to the Late-Middle (Mousterian culture) and Upper Palaeolithic (Aurignacian and Magdalenian cultures). This study intends to give a taphonomic overview of the large ungulate bone assemblages. Around 12,500 large mammal remains have been studied. Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) and horse (Equus caballus) were the primary prey taxa. In general terms, the faunal assemblage reveals a low degree of "weathering" and a wide variation of carnivore and hominid modifications in the different layers. Mousterian and Aurignacian units suggest multiple short-term human occupations that occurred at various seasons throughout the year alternating with carnivores. According to prey body part representation and mark frequencies, carnivores sometimes gained primary access to bones while denning, and secondarily accessed discarded bones after hominids left the site. Analysis of the Magdalenian unit indicates a broad range of activities including butchering that took place at the site. Nearly complete carcasses were transported from the kill site and processed for meat and marrow. Seasonality studies suggest that occupations took place in winter to early spring.

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Taphonomy of the Accumulations Produced by Caracara plancus (Falconidae). Analysis of Prey Remains and Pellets.

Claudia I. Montalvo, Pedro O. Tallade.


[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2&3. 2009 (12 issue)

Caracara plancus (Falconidae) is a diurnal raptor bird, described as an opportunist that feeds on carrion and a variety of live preys, including rodents. Based on the skeletal remains of rodents recovered from pellets produced by this bird, an analysis of the modifications occurred on those bones was carried out, concluding that they were important. Along with pellets, scattered rodents prey remains not digested, collected in the same sampling area, under the roosting, were analyzed. The comparison of the data from pellets and that from uneaten prey remains indicates that southern caracara would perform a certain selection over different body parts of predated rodents, discarding mainly the cranial regions. The ingested osseous remains, showing evidence of breakage and digestion, could accumulate together with the skeletal elements that, which constitute the remains of prey, with particular signs of breakage but without signs of digestion. These findings are particularly relevant in order to avoid missininterpretations of this kind of accumulations, which are not mixtures produced by several predators but only one predator with a particular pattern of ingestion. Consequently, when zooarchaeological or paleontological records from the Pampean region are analyzed, it is very important to consider the fact that these birds of prey could have contributed to the accumulation of micromammal bones, with skeletal elements coming both from pellets and prey remains.

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Plant Taphonomy from the Mississippian Flysch Facies of the El Priorat Massif (Catalonia, Spain).

Sheila Villalba-Breva, Carles Martín-Closas.


[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 2&3. 2009 (13 issue)

Calamitaleans belonging to Archaeocalamites cf. radiatus and Mesocalamites cf. ramifer were found in flysch deposits of the Middle-Upper Visean of La Vilella Baixa (Priorat Massif, Catalonia, Spain). This is the first time a Mississippian flora from the Catalan Coastal Chain and NE Spain is described. The calamitalean assemblage contains only stems (either adpressions or pith casts) without other calamitalean organs. Putative pteridosperm remains associated with them include Carpolithus-type seeds. Unidentified woody axes might belong to pteridosperms or ferns. The assemblage was deposited by turbiditic flows on slope-apron facies of the Carboniferous basin. Taphonomic features suggest that the plant remains underwent severe transport selection before final deposition. Three taphofacies recognized indicate that under different hydrodynamic conditions of deposition, the assemblage only varies in small taphonomic features, with no significant change in composition. This suggests that the supply of plant remains to the slope-apron area consisted mainly of calamitalean stems, rare pteridosperm seeds and unidentified woody branches, though the original composition of the plant community was probably much more diverse. Comparison with another Mississippian flora from the Hercynian Flysch of Southern Europe (Cabrières, France) suggests that both assemblages may have been taxonomically similar in origin but differed after taphonomic selection.

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Julio Aguirre


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Volumen 8. Number 1. Year 2010.

2019-11-06T22:49:07+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 8. Number 1. Year 2010.|

VOLUME 8. NUMBER 1. 2010

What Taphonomy Is, What it Isn’t, and Why Taphonomists Should Care about the Difference.

R. Lee Lyman


[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 1. 2010 (1 issue)

The term "taphonomy" was originally defined by paleontologist I. A. Efremov in 1940 as "the study of the transition (in all its details) of animal remains from the biosphere into the lithosphere." The term evolved to include plant remains because Efremov also indicated that taphonomy concerned the "transition from the biosphere to the lithosphere." The concept and the term were both adopted by zooarchaeologists who were interested in whether modified bones represented prehistoric tools or were concerned about the fidelity of the paleoecological signal of a collection of faunal remains. Until the middle 1970s, the term still meant what Efremov originally intended. When some archaeologists adopted the term to signify the formation and disturbance of the archaeological record and natural modification of artifacts, they caused the term to take on meanings different than those originally specified by Efremov. Taphonomy concerns once living material whereas archaeological formation processes concerns both once living and never living material; taphonomy concerns the transition from living to non-living and geological, so includes both natural and cultural formation processes as either biasing or information laden and of research interest whereas archaeological formation concerns the transition from a living system to a non-living geological one but natural processes are biasing whereas cultural formation processes are of research interest. Taphonomists should quietly inform archaeologists who misuse the term that in so doing they exacerbate confusion and misunderstanding.

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Hyenas Around The City (Kashan, Iran).

Hervé Monchot, Marjan Mashkour.


[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 1. 2010 (2 issue)

This paper presents a taphonomic study of faunal remains of domestic and wild mammals found in a striped hyaena (Hyaena hyaena) den at Kaftar Khoun in the Karkars Piedmont near the city gate of Kashan (Iran). The Kaftar Khoun faunal assemblage is characterized by a low degree of bone breakage with many of the long bones complete, an intermediate frequency of tooth marking and a moderate amount of weathering damage to the bones. The species list, and mortality profiles of the main taxa, suggests that the hyenas collected remains of domestic stock that died naturally or were hunted/scavenged (e.g. mules, donkeys), while the canids represent prey killed during conflicts over carcasses or were scavenged from road kills. The Kaftar Khoun den offers insights into the behaviour of striped hyenas in peri-urban environments. It shows that their behavioral adaptations are directly connected to modifications in their environment such that it may be considered as a commensal animal associated with human activities.

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The Faunal Analysis of Magubike and Mlambalasi, Two MSA-LSA Archaeological Sites from Iringa District, Tanzania.

Benjamin R. Collins, Pamela R. Willoughby.


[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 1. 2010 (3 issue)

Magubike (HxJf-01) and Mlambalasi (Hw-Jf-02) are two recently excavated archaeological sites from the Iringa District of southern Tanzania. Both sites contain lithic and faunal materials dating to the Iron Age, Later Stone Age and Middle Stone Age. Magubike and Mlambalasi are extremely unique sites, as they contain the only excavated sequence of Later Stone Age and Middle Stone Age faunal remains outside of northern Tanzania. The current study encompasses a preliminary taphonomic and zooarchaeological analysis of the faunal remains recovered during initial excavations at both sites in July and August of 2006. This research focuses on building a sound taphonomic framework of the formational histories for both sites, thereby allowing inferences to be drawn regarding the subsistence behaviours of the past occupants. The preservational condition of the faunal remains from the LSA and MSA levels currently precludes any insight into the subsistence behaviours from these periods. Subsistence behaviours were determined for the Iron Age assemblages and indicate that Magubike and Mlambalasi were repeatedly used campsites and that both exhibit possible differences in the treatment of small and large animals.

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An Experiment on the Vertical Migration of Archaeological Materials in Clay Deposits.

Santiago Domínguez-Solera.


[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 1. 2010 (4 issue)

Understanding how materials move under the ground after sedimentation has taken place is still a problem for taphonomists due to the constraints imposed by certain diagenetic processes to create analogical frameworks through experimentation where variables are hard to control. The present study addresses one of these processes and provides important information regarding how bones move horizontally and vertically in clay sedimentary deposits. An experiment was conducted for one year and the clays were exposed to periodic cycles of wetting and drying. The results indicate that plastic sediments are prone to modify the original position of bones. Bones move vertically but mostly without tilting. Vertical tilting is mostly associated with trampling or other (e.g., bioturbation) processes.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: The scavenger or the scavenged?

Antonio Rodriguez Hidalgo.


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Volumen 9. Number 3. Year 2011.

2019-11-06T22:56:49+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 9. Number 3. Year 2011.|

VOLUME 9. NUMBER 3. 2011

Suid Bone Marrow Yields and How They May Influence Resource Choice.

Gillian L. Edwards, Teresa E. Steele.


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

Marrow is a valuable source of energy, fat, and nutrients that has been exploited by prehistoric and historic peoples across many different environments. Previous experiments on marrow yields have provided new insights into the nutritional value of many ungulates that were important to the diets of past hominins. However, few studies have been conducted on suids. To investigate the caloric value of suid marrow, we broke ten humeri, seven radii, eight femora and seven tibiae of domestic pig and two of each of these elements of wild boar (both Sus scrofa) limb bones using the hammerstone and anvil technique. The marrow inside was removed and dried so that its kilocaloric value could be calculated. In this paper we compare and discuss the kilocaloric yields of males and females, different elements, and different age groups and conclude that, beyond seasonality, body size and age are potential indicators of marrow kilocaloric yields. Further, we compare our data to available data on impala (Aepyceros melampus) and wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), and we conclude that these ungulates provided more marrow than suids, and therefore they may have provided more benefits as a food resource.

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Diagenetic Changes in Pleistocene Mollusc Shells of the Patras-Corinth Rift (Greece).

Yannicke Dauphin, Alain Denis, Denis Sorel.


[+info] VOLUME 9. NUMBERS 3. 2011 (2 issue)

Modern mollusc shells and samples from the Pleistocene of the Patras-Corinth rift (Greece) have been studied to determine the state of preservation of the microstructures. Diagenetic effects are highly variable within the site, within a shell, and within a structural layer. The strongest effects have destroyed the microstructures. Some microstructural changes are correlative of a mineralogical change (aragonite to calcite). The comparison of soluble organic matrices extracted from modern and “well-preserved” fossil shells shows there is a loss of organic matrices in fossil shells even in still aragonitic samples. Moreover, the composition of the organic matrices is also altered. From these data, it appears that diagenetic alterations are still unpredictable. Thus, the only control of the mineralogy of carbonate skeletons used as proxies for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions, to establish tectonic movements, or for dating is necessary, but insufficient.

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Flaked Stone Taphonomy: a Controlled Experimental Study of the Effects of Sediment Consolidation on Flake Edge Morphology.

Metin I. Eren, Andrew R. Boehm, Brooke M. Morgan, Rick Anderson, Brian Andrews.


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

Sediment consolidation can influence both stone flake artifact inclination and vertical displacement. In this paper we present a novel experiment for investigating the effect of sediment consolidation on the morphology of stone flakes. Focusing specifically on the variables of gravel size and pressure, we show that sediment consolidation does not appear to result in the creation of retouched assemblages from nonretouched ones. Bend-break fractures via sediment consolidation did occur at higher frequencies, and as such the occurrence of bend-breaks needs further experimentation to tease out other specific contexts in which they occur. Overall, however, our experimental results suggest that in most cases archaeologists should not be concerned with sediment consolidation altering the appearance of flaked stone assemblages.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Isognomon shell concentration.

Juan C. Braga


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