The Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo): a Fish Bone Accumulator on Pleistocene Cave Sites?
Keywords: FISH BONES, EAGLE OWL, BUBO BUBO, LATE PLEISTOCENE, ACCUMULATION AGENTS
[+info] VOLUME 8. ISSUE 4. 2010 (1 issue)
The Eurasian eagle owl (Bubo bubo) is frequently recognised as an accumulator of skeletal remains on archaeological sites. To date, research on this species as an accumulator has focused on mammalian and avian prey, especially in cases where material could be potentially mistaken for human refuse. Here, the potential for the eagle owl to deposit fish remains on archaeological sites, specifically caves sites in Europe dating to the Late Pleistocene, is considered. Fish remains from Late Pleistocene cave sites are often assumed to represent food waste accumulated by humans, however, taphonomic signatures for fish remains deposited by piscivorous and fish eating faunas have not yet been identified. Using archaeological and ecological research, the potential for the eagle owl to produce fish bone accumulations on Pleistocene cave sites is recognised. Foundations for a taphonomic signature for fish remains produced by the eagle owl are suggested based on recorded fish prey species, associated prey species and likely spatial distribution. Areas for further research are identified.
Keywords: SALMON, ELEMENT SURVIVABILITY, BONE DENSITY, TAPHONOMY, EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH
[+info] VOLUME 8. ISSUE 4. 2010 (2 issue)
Fish represent an important resource to people living near water sources. However, the visibility of fish remains within the archaeological record is generally considered to be reduced compared with other taxa, in part because of their greater susceptibility to natural processes of taphonomic attrition. This experimental pilot study focused on testing the durability of fish elements by comparing the survivability of denser post-cranial elements with less dense cranial elements in a range of pH solutions. Data obtained from these observations were subjected to a statistical analysis that revealed several trends. No significant difference was observed between the survivability of cranial and post-cranial elements, however, a significant difference was noted for the impact of pH on element survivability. In general, both more acidic and basic environments were observed as detrimental factors for fish element survivability.
Some traditional zooarchaeological analyses assume that faunal assemblages associated with stone tools are basically the result of human behaviour. Under this view, in previous research of the Palaeolithic site of Amalda Cave, the site was defined as a fully anthropogenic assemblage. In this paper, new taphonomic analyses show a different interpretation, since in some cases, the associations of bones and stone tools are created and modified by more than one agent in a succession of events. In Amalda Cave, the high frequencies of tooth marks on some animal bones, in contrast to the marginal percentages of cut and percussion marks, as well as the fragmentation profiles, suggest that carnivores played a major role in the accumulation of small-sized animals. On the other hand, medium-sized and large-sized animals show high percentages of cut marks and other evidences of human behaviour in detriment of carnivore modification. The present review leads to the conclusion that carnivores were the main agent for the accumulation of small-sized animals, while hominids enjoyed a primary access to larger carcasses. This study underscores the crucial role of taphonomy to understand the zooarchaeological record of the Iberian Peninsula.
Humans compete with carnivores for animal resources. As a result of this competition and because carcasses can be used sequentially by different classes of predators, it is often difficult to identify the agent of accumulation in archaeological settings. If efficiency in feeding behaviour has been selected for, it may be possible to use such behavioural predispositions to predict the manner in which a faunal assemblage will be modified. To assess this problem, we performed a series of feeding experiments with captive arctic wolves and spotted hyenas. Our results suggest that these species produce predictable patterns of gnawing damage on skeletal elements when key variables are manipulated, including prey body size and the presence of intact marrow cavities. Patterns of gnawing damage also appear to be associated with bone density, developmental age, and the amount of adhering flesh. The effect of these factors also appears to vary between carnivore species. Further understanding of carnivore ecology and behaviour will be useful to archaeozoologists and palaeontologists who are faced with complex site formation processes involving multiple agents.
Taphonomic analysis of small ungulates modified by fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Southwestern Europe.
José Yravedra Sainz de los Terreros*, Miriam Andrés, Philippe Fosse, Jean Pierre Besson.
Keywords: FOX, CARNIVORES, TOOTH MARKS, TAPHONOMY, SMALL UNGULATES
[+info] VOLUME 12. ISSUE 1. 2014 (2 issue)
The interaction between humans and carnivores regarding bone modification is a frequent taphonomic phenomenon generating palimpsest where the activity of both agents is present. However, recent research has mainly been concerned with the identification of their individual action. In the case of carnivores, hyenas and felids were the most studied species, while other animals were virtually postponed in the agenda. Considering the abundance of fossil evidence of foxes in the European Pleistocene, this paper presents new data for the taphonomic characterization of fox behaviour. Thus, our interest is to improve the referential framework available for this carnivore's action aiming at its identification in the Pleistocene fossil record. Hence, we describe the analysis of two modern assemblages modified by foxes: the first one corresponds to a natural-death assemblage near Ayllón (Segovia, Spain) and the second to a den site in Ourtiaga (Pyrenées, France). In order to characterise fox action, we analyse its behaviour by means of the analysis of tooth marks and fracture patterns. Regarding the former, mark frequency, types, dimensions and distribution are considered. Finally, with the intention of discriminating fox behaviour from human action, we simulated tooth mark frequencies and distribution on a carcass which was previously fractured by humans.
Taphonomy of a fish accumulation by the European Otter (Lutra lutra) in central France.
Emilie Guillaud, Philippe Béarez, Christiane Denys, Stéphane Raimond.
Keywords: OTTER, PREDATOR, DIGESTION, SPRAINTS, FISH BONES, TAPHONOMY
[+info] VOLUME 12. ISSUE 1. 2014 (3 issue)
Fish remains are abundant and easily recognizable in many archaeological sites. But, the origin of such assemblages is generally poorly known. However, the ability to create small fish bone accumulations is restricted to a small number of predators (including raptors, carnivores, and humans). In order to recognize the agents responsible for these concentrations in archaeological sites, we have investigated the taphonomy of the fish remains from otter spraints to determine the potential role of otters in the formation of fossil assemblages. Currently, few data are available to characterize the accumulation of otter remains in natural or archaeological sites. We analyzed a collection of 29 otter spraints from Bugeat (Corrèze) in central France. We identified the remains of nine fish species including, brown trout ((Salmo trutta, Salmonidae), perch (Perca fluviatilis, Percidae), pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus, Centrarchidae), and several Cyprinidae, rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus), minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus), bullhead (Cottus gobio) and the indeterminate pair chub/dace (Squalius cephalus/Leuciscus leuciscus). The species and the body parts present, along with the reconstruction of the fish weight and observations of any modifications, such as deformation, rounding and polishing, give us insight into otter prey categories and their transformation after digestion. Among the ca. 200 bones constituting the whole fish skeleton, only between 6 and 39 bones survived according the different species. Cyprinids display a high moderate digestion grade and seems to be the taxon most affected by digestion (64.67%). Based on surface modifications, such as breakage and digestion traces, as well as bone element representation, we produced a set of criteria as a new tool to be applied to the fossil record.
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