EXPERIMENTAL TAPHONOMY

Volumen 1 Number 2 Year 2003

2019-11-06T21:33:07+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 1. Number 2. Year 2003.|

VOLUME 1. NUMBER 2. 2003

Decay and Disarticulation of Small Vertebrates in Controlled Experiments.

Leonard R. Brand, Michael Hussey, John Taylor.

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, VERTEBRATE, DECAY, DISARTICULATION, BIOSTRATINOMY, EXPERIMENTAL TAPHONOMY

[+info] VOLUME 1. NUMBER 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

Keywords: AQUATIC, BIRDS, DECOMPOSITION, DISINTEGRATION, GASTROLITHS, STRUTHIO CAMELUS, TERRESTRIAL, VERTEBRATE TAPHONOMY

[+info] VOLUME 1. NUMBER 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.

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, SPIRAL FRACTURING, SCHÖNINGEN, BOXGROVE, WOODEN SPEARS

[+info] VOLUME 1. NUMBER 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.

Keywords: OLDOWAN, HOMINID, TAPHONOMY, CARNIVORY, FOSSIL CARNIVORANS, TOOTH MARKS, BONE MODIFICATION, PALEOGUILD

[+info] VOLUME 1. NUMBER 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 Number 4 Year 2003

2019-11-06T21:34:53+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 1. Number 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.

Keywords: BONE, REGURGITATION PELLETS, OLDUVAI, CHEMICAL COMPOSITION, ORGANIC MATRICES

[+info] VOLUME 1. NUMBER 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.

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, TURTLE, TESTUDINES, DECAY, DISARTICULATION, BIOSTRATINOMY, EXPERIMENTAL TAPHONOMY

[+info] VOLUME 1. NUMBER 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.

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, BIOSTRATINOMY, DISPERSAL STAGES, DISPERSAL SEQUENCES, ARCHOSAURS.

[+info] VOLUME 1. NUMBER 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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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

Keywords: ARCHAEOLOGY, DEFINITIONS, I. A. EFREMOV, PALEONTOLOGY, TERMINOLOGY

[+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.

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, EQUIDS, CANIDS, STRIPED HYENA, KAFTAR KHOUN, IRAN

[+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.

Keywords: ZOOARCHAEOLOGY, BONE SURFACE MODIFICATIONS, SKELETAL ELEMENT ABUNDANCES, SUBSISTENCE BEHAVIOUR, TANZANIA, IRON AGE

[+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.

Keywords: CLAY, DIAGENESIS, VERTICAL MOVEMENT, BONES, EXPERIMENTAL TAPHONOMY

[+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.

Keywords

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Volumen 10. Number 2. Year 2012.

2019-11-06T22:59:52+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 10. Number 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.

Keywords: BONE COLOUR, EL HARHOURA 2, RODENTS, TAPHONOMY, PROXY

[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 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.

Keywords: HYSTRIX INDICA, NEAR EAST, TEL ZAHARA, PORCUPINE BURROWS BONE DAMAGE, BIOTURBATION

[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 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.

Keywords: FLINT, EXPERIMENTAL TAPHONOMY, HUNTING

[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 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

Keywords

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Volumen 15. Number 1-3. Year 2017.

2019-11-06T23:06:44+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 15. Number 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.

Keywords: EXPERIMENTAL TAPHONOMY, FORMATION PROCESSES, BIOTURBATION, BIOMANTLE, SALADO RIVER DEPRESSION

[+info] VOLUME 15. NUMBERS 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.

Keywords: ACTUALISTIC TAPHONOMY, BONE ACCUMULATIONS, NATURAL DEATH, OVIS ARIES, ZOOARCHEOLOGY, SOUTHERN PATAGONIA

[+info] VOLUME 15. NUMBERS 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.

Keywords: WHALES, ORDER OF DISARTICULATION, NATURAL FORMATION PROCESSES, ZOOARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSEMBLAGES, PSEUDORCA CRASSIDENS, TIERRA DEL FUEGO

[+info] VOLUME 15. NUMBERS 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.

Keywords: ACTUALISTIC TAPHONOMY, MODERN BONE ACCUMULATION AND PRESERVATION, GUANACO (LAMA GUANICOE), SITE FORMATION PROCESS, COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS, MOAT BAY

[+info] VOLUME 15. NUMBERS 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.

Keywords: NATURALISTIC TAPHONOMY, GRASSLAND FIRE, VERTEBRATE BONES, THERMAL ALTERATION

[+info] VOLUME 15. NUMBERS 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.

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, ACTUALISTIC MODEL, ZOOARCHAEOLOGY, MICROMAMMALS, CENTRAL WESTERN ARGENTINA, RAPTORS

[+info] VOLUME 15. NUMBERS 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.

Keywords: PATAGONIA, LAMA GUANICOE, LONG BONES, DIFFERENTIAL INTRAOSSEOUS PRESERVATION, WEATHERING

[+info] VOLUME 15. NUMBERS 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.

Keywords: CARNIVORES, TAPHONOMY, ACTUALISTIC STUDIES, NEOTROPICS, SOUTHERN SOUTH AMERICA

[+info] VOLUME 15. NUMBERS 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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