TAPHONOMY

Volumen 5. Number 2. Year 2007.

2019-11-06T22:38:05+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 5. Number 2. Year 2007.|

VOLUME 5. NUMBER 2. 2007

Taphonomic Analysis of Pseudalopex griseus (Gray, 1837) Scat Assemblages and their Archaeological Implications.

Gustavo N. Gómez, Cristian A. Kaufmann.

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, DIGESTION TRACES, GREY FOX, MICROMAMMALS, PATAGONIC STEPPE

[+info] VOLUME 5. NUMBERS 2. 2007 (1 issue)

Grey fox (Pseudalopex griseus) scats deposited in the immediate vicinity of guanaco (Lama guanicoe) carcasses were analyzed to evaluate this carnivore´s transport of bones. Samples were from the arid, semi-desert Río Negro Province, Argentina, where the annual mean temperature (15ºC) varies widely with the season. Rates of breakage, the presence of tooth marks and digestion traces on bones from scats were analyzed to categorize the taphonomic signature of the small grey fox. The values of the modification variables used in the categorization indicate that the grey fox (Pseudalopex griseus) may be considered a Category 5 predator.

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Taphonomy of the Oxfordian-Lowermost Kimmeridgian Siliceous Sponges of the Prebetic Zone (Southern Iberia).

M. Reolid

Keywords: EPIBIONTS, HEXACTINELLIDA, LITHISTIDA, MID-OUTER SHELF, UPPER JURASSIC, SPAIN

[+info] VOLUME 5. NUMBERS 2. 2007 (2 issue)

The siliceous sponges in the Oxfordian-lowermost Kimmeridgian deposits of the Prebetic were important rock-forming organisms, and the most important in the spongiolithic lithofacies group. The siliceous sponges were in several cases the main component in macroinvertebrate assemblages. This taphonomic analysis shows the sequence of processes that occur in the fossilization of siliceous sponges.
As soon as the sponge is dead, the fixation to the substrate is weakened and currents or organisms can tilt and overturn the sponge. The decay of soft tissue led to the precipitation of automicrites (possibly influenced by sulphate-reducing bacteria); at the same time skeletal silica dissolves where, later, the calcitic cementation is produced. Afterwards, the sponge remains were bored by lithophagous bivalves and colonized in the upward surfaces by benthic microbial communities and nubeculariids, and secondarily other foraminifera, whereas downward surfaces were encrusted by annelids (serpulids and terebellids), sessile foraminifera (Tolypammina, Subdelloidina, and Bullopora among others) and bryozoans. Local fragmentation of sponges and their encrustations formed the tuberoids, which behave like an intraclast subjected to transport and encrustation.

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A Multidisciplinary Approach Reveals an Extraordinary Double Inhumation in the Osteoarchaeological Record.

J. Rascón Pérez , O. Cambra-Moo A. González Martín.

Keywords: PREGNANCY, FETUS, TAPHONOMY, BLOATED STAGE, SKELETONIZATION, GRAVE SEDIMENTATION

[+info] VOLUME 5. NUMBERS 2. 2007 (3 issue)

An exceptional archaeological discovery from the Muslim Baza necropolis is reported. An unusual double inhumation presents a complete skeleton of a pregnant woman close to childbirth time, and the skeletal remains of a fetus located between her femora (i.e., outside the abdominal or pelvic area). A first osteological review showed a complete fetus skeleton apparently disconnected. However, a deeper evaluation of the material revealed a more articulated state without signs of any taphonomic alterations or scavenger marks. On the one hand, ancient Muslim traditions suggest that if a baby dies during pregnancy or in premature childbirth, but the mother survives, the baby must be extracted and entombed individually. On the other hand, both skeletons do not present evidences of obstetric problems that could explain unexpected labour complications. Therefore, in the case reported in the present work, it is clear that the mother died before or at the same time as the baby, and she was entombed with the baby inside. A multidisciplinary revision of anthropological, archaeological, taphonomic and cultural data obtained through literature, has been combined with recent data extracted from decomposition experiments (i.e., actuo-taphonomy). This heuristic scenario has allowed us to build a parsimonious hypothesis in which such an unusual location of the fetus remains could be explained by analyzing the known steps in taphonomic-forensic dynamics. It is argued that before both corpses were finally skeletonized and covered with sediment, the mother corpse accumulated gas due to organic tissue degradation, and ejected the fetus remains out of the abdominal cavity.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Dirty Landing.

Christian A. Meyer

Keywords

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Volumen 5. Number 3. Year 2007.

2019-11-06T22:40:30+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 5. Number 3. Year 2007.|

VOLUME 5. NUMBER 3. 2007

The Aquatic Genus Notonecta (Insecta: Heteroptera) as a Palaeo-ecological Indicator of Rhythmite Miming Sequences in Shallow Freshwater Deposits.

Jean-Claude Paicheler , André Nel, Jean-Claude Gall, Xavier Delclòs.

Keywords: INSECTA, NOTONECTIDAE, PALAEOLAKE, VOLCANO-SEDIMENTARY, LAMINAE FORMATION, MICROBIAL MATS, OLIGO-MIOCENE, TURKEY

[+info] VOLUME 5. NUMBERS 3. 2007 (1 issue)

We study the processes of laminae formation in the Oligo-Miocene volcano-sedimentary palaeolakes of the Gürçü-Dere Valley (Anatolia, Turkey). These deposits contain a rich macro- and micro-flora and vertebrate and insect fauna. The deposition and fossilisation of these organisms' remains are related to the development of the lakes' surface and bottom microbial mats. These strata are made of two types of rhythmite or varve, imitating dark and clear laminae sequences. The first type is (detritic + organic material) / diatoms at the Bes-Konak palaeolake, probably not of seasonal origin (rhythmite), but providing evidence of short ecological 'mini-catastrophes', a few weeks long, in confined environments. The second type is (diatoms + organic matter) / dolomite at the Iybeler palaeolake, probably of seasonal origin (varve). For the first time, we show that fossil insects, i.e. the Notonecta spp., are highly relevant to determining the relative duration and mechanisms of the depositions of these laminae.

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Carnivore Bone Portion Choice and Surface Modification on Modern Experimental Boiled Bone Assemblages.

Jessica C. Thompson, Yolanda Lee-Gorishti.

Keywords: BONE BOILING, TAPHONOMY, CARNIVORE, ACTUALISTIC STUDY, ZOOARCHAEOLOGY

[+info] VOLUME 5. NUMBERS 3. 2007 (2 issue)

Numerous experiments on modern bone assemblages have demonstrated that carnivores preferentially ravage bone portions that have high fat content such as ribs, vertebrae, pelves, and the spongy ends of long bones. If marrow is present in long bones, carnivores will break them to access it. If humans remove the marrow first, carnivores typically ignore midshaft fragments and focus on spongy portions that contain bone grease. These portions are swallowed and the grease is extracted within the gut. Many modern human groups regularly implement bone boiling technology to extract grease, and this technology is also known to have existed during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene - particularly among high-latitude hunter-gatherer groups. Because most actualistic studies of bone surface modification and carnivore bone portion choice are based on unboiled bones, the results may not be applicable to archaeological assemblages in which bone boiling technology was utilized. An experimental evaluation of the effects that bone boiling has on carnivore bone portion choice and relative proportions of human and carnivore bone surface modification indicates that; 1) The extraction of bone grease from bone ends during boiling, particularly prolonged boiling, causes carnivores to become less selective in bone portion choice; and 2) As a likely result of this decreased selectivity, the relative proportions of tooth- and percussion-marked midshaft fragments in heavily boiled assemblages (those boiled longer than 10 hours) is not likely to remain a reliable indicator of the timing of carnivore and human interaction with an assemblage.

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Differential Fragmentation of Different Ungulate Body-Size: A Comparison of Gazelle and Fallow Deer Bone Fragmentation in Levantine Prehistoric Assemblages.

Reuven Yeshurun, Nimrod Marom, Guy Bar-Oz.

Keywords: PALEOLITHIC ZOOARCHAEOLOGY, TAPHONOMY, BONE FRAGMENTATION, SKELETAL COMPLETENESS, BONE SURVIVORSHIP, GAZELLE, FALLOW DEER, LEVANT

[+info] VOLUME 5. NUMBERS 3. 2007 (3 issue)

Differences amongst ungulate body-size classes in archaeofaunal assemblages are frequently used to infer economic structure, human transport and processing decisions, or pre-burial taphonomic processes. It was found that bones of larger ungulates (fallow deer, Dama mesopotamica) are generally more fragmented than analogous elements of smaller ungulates (mountain gazelle, Gazella gazella). This pattern is consistent across several Levantine Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic bone assemblages and does not stem from recovery or identification biases, or from animal-induced taphonomic causes such as carnivore ravaging. We suggest that the greater fragmentation of larger animals is an artifact of either differential human processing of large and small animals, or of post-depositional attritional processes. Our analysis points to the greater likelihood of the latter scenario. We conclude that inter-taxonomic comparisons should consider the possibility that key zooarchaeological measures may be biased due to differential size-related fragmentation, affecting inferences on human behavior, taphonomic processes, and paleoenvironments.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Chasing carnivores.

Jose Yravedra

Keywords

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Volumen 6. Number 1. Year 2008.

2019-11-06T22:42:28+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 6. Number 1. Year 2008.|

VOLUME 6. NUMBER 1. 2008

A Deposition Mechanism for Holocene Miring Bone Deposits, South Island, New Zealand.

Jamie R. Wood, Trevor H. Worthy, Nicolas J. Rawlence, Susan M. Jones, Stephen E. Read.

Keywords: BONE, DEPOSITION, GIS, HOLOCENE, MIRING, MOA, NEW ZEALAND, WETLAND

[+info] VOLUME 6. NUMBERS 1. 2008 (1 issue)

Localised deposits of Late Pleistocene and Holocene bird bones occur in wetlands throughout New Zealand. These are characterised by dense accumulations of mostly disarticulated bones, with assemblages dominated by large, flightless bird taxa; in particular the extinct ratite moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes). A wide range of deposition mechanisms were historically proposed for these sites, including large floods and stampedes during wildfires. We outline a simple method for analysing the orientation and spatial distribution of bones within these deposits using GIS software, and apply this method to the interpretation of three such deposits from South Island, New Zealand. The results are consistent with non-catastrophic, periodic miring of individual moa. Long bones within these sites were preferentially orientated and subhorizontally inclined, indicating post-deposition disarticulation and movement of the bones within the sediment by sediment liquefaction and raking from the legs of mired birds, with a possible influence from water flow. Small, light skeletal elements were significantly under represented in the deposits. This may be due to post-mortem scavenging or weathering of vertebra and crania, 'pumping' to the surface of light, buoyant elements during liquefaction events, or crushing of these elements by subsequently mired birds.

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An Approach to the Study of Variations in Early Stages of Gallus gallus Decomposition.

Oscar Cambra-Moo, Ángela D. Buscalioni, Rafael Delgado-Buscalioni.

Keywords: BIRD, DECOMPOSITION, DECAY RATE, TAPHONOMY

[+info] VOLUME 6. NUMBERS 1. 2008 (2 issue)

We explored decay rate dynamics in the early decomposition process of Gallus gallus. Our initial hypothesis was that the variation of the mass decay rate is sensitive to the alterations experienced by the carcass during decomposition. In order to establish a framework for the different patterns of carcass alteration, a sample with successive ontogenetic stages (from embryo to adult), set in three environmental conditions (subaerial, burial, and water-submerged), was examined over an 18-day experimental period. Values of the average mass loss and decay rate, and a measure of the overall decomposition rate (<K>) for all individuals in the same group and environment are provided. Decay rate was greatest during gas production and expulsion (days 7 to 10) in all age classes, and, at this stage, individuals underwent critical body alterations, in special in subaerial and water environments. The decay process ended at the skeletonization stage, reached after 11 days in the subaerial setting, and after 28 days when specimens were buried. The analysis of decay rate in water does not provide complete information since decomposition was conditioned by the waterlogging of feathers and tissues. The correlation of age and the decay rate indicated that older individuals decayed faster during the first 6 days, before the onset of the gas phase. Also, during the early stages of the process, differences in decay rate were induced by age, while during the gas phase, variation was driven by individual factors. When skin was removed, corpses underwent rapid dehydration, which induced an exponential decrease of the decay rate. By comparison, skin tended to dampen and varied in decay rate.

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The Taphonomy of the Pliocene Microfauna from Kanapoi, North-Western Kenya.

Fredrick Kyalo Manthi.

Keywords: KANAPOI, PLIOCENE, NORTH-WESTERN KENYA, MICROFAUNA, TAPHONOMY

[+info] VOLUME 6. NUMBERS 1. 2008 (3 issue)

A taxonomic and taphonomic study was carried out on two assemblages of microfauna from the Pliocene locality of Kanapoi in north-western Kenya, in order to understand the agent/s responsible for their accumulation and the taphonomic processes that have influenced the assemblages. The two sites, namely, Nzube's Mandible Site and the Bat Site have yielded microfaunal remains comprising largely rodents and bats. The fauna at Nzube's Mandible Site derives from the same site as the holotype mandible of Australopithecus anamensis and comprises largely murids, while that from the Bat Site consists largely bats. Characteristics of the assemblages such as the high representation of nearly all skeletal elements suggest that, although pre- and post-depositional processes caused damage to the faunal remains, overall the samples are a fairly true reflection of the original assemblages that accumulated at the sites. Further, the high representation of virtually all skeletal elements, the minimal degree of etching among the murid incisors, and the high faunal diversity, particularly at Nzube's Mandible Site, indicate that the two assemblages accumulated in situ by way of predation. Even though several predators may have been involved, the barn owl (Tyto alba) or the giant eagle owl (Bubo lacteus), are the most likely accumulators of the two assemblages.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Bone accumulators.

Isabel Cruz

Keywords

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Volumen 6. Number 2. Year 2008.

2019-11-06T22:43:32+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 6. Number 2. Year 2008.|

VOLUME 6. NUMBER 2. 2008

Ancient Hunters, Modern Butchers. Schöningen 13II-4, a Kill-Butchery Site Dating from the Northwest European Lower Paleolithic.

Boudewijn Voormolen

Keywords: PALAEOLITHIC ARCHAEOLOGY, LOWER PALAEOLITHIC, EUROPEAN LOWER PALAEOLITHIC, TAPHONOMY, ARCHAEOZOOLOGY, PALAEOLITHIC HUNTING, HUNTING VERSUS SCAVENGING DEBATE, EARLY HOMINID SUBSISTENCE BEHAVIOUR, ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESOLUTION

[+info] VOLUME 6. NUMBERS 2. 2008 (1 issue)

[The editors wish to announce that this is a special issue containing a doctoral research on the taphonomy of the important middle Pleistocene site of Schöningen. It is presented in two files to enable easy downloading. For this purpose, the original JT online format has been modified and it is presented as in the printed format.]

The research1 Ancient Hunters, Modern Butchers presents a first detailed study of bone material found
together with spectacularly preserved wooden spears at the Lower Palaeolithic site of Schöningen 13II-4,
in Germany. Analysis of a large sample of bone remains from this site revealed data being very relevant to
the hunting versus scavenging debate in Palaeolithic archaeology. Excellent conservation of the bone
material facilitated a thorough documentation of butchery traces and the reconstruction of early hominid
subsistence behaviour at the site. The author argues that Schöningen 13II-4 represents a Lower Palaeolithic
kill-butchery site where especially horses have been killed and butchered for multiple animal products.
The results of this study seriously question the validity of models on marginal, more scavenging like
Lower Palaeolithic hominid subsistence behaviour.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Taphonomy and Paleolithic Archaeology.

Boudewijn Voormolen

Keywords

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Volumen 6. Number 3-4. Year 2008.

2019-11-06T22:44:22+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 6. Number 3-4. Year 2008.|

VOLUME 6. NUMBER 3 & 4. 2008 [THE TAPHONOMY OF BONE-CRUNCHING CARNIVORES. Special issue edited by Charles P. Egeland.]

THE TAPHONOMY OF BONE-CRUNCHING CARNIVORES. Special issue edited by Charles P. Egeland.

Bone-Crunching Carnivores as Taphonomic Agents: An Introduction to a Special Volume of Journal of Taphonomy.

Charles P. Egeland

Keywords

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Cetaceans from a Possible Striped Hyaena Den Site in Qatar.

Peter Andrews

Keywords: BONE ASSEMBLAGE, BONE BREAKAGE, PORPOISE PREDATION, SCAVENGING, PUNCTURE MARKS

[+info] VOLUME 6. NUMBERS 3 & 4. 2008 (2 issue)

A small bone assemblage from Qatar is described. The bones were found in a small cave eroded out of marine sediments and the most likely accumulator of the bones was striped hyaena, Hyaena hyaena. Four species of large mammal are represented in the assemblage, striped hyaena, camel, gazelle and the finless porpoise. In addition there were some rodent and bird bones, the origin of which was uncertain. There were 68 identifiable large mammal bones in total, 2 skulls, 6 mandibles, 11 isolated teeth and 23 postcranial elements, together with 26 ear ossicles of the finless porpoise. In addition, 10 indeterminate large mammal bones were collected. The assemblage was identified as a striped hyaena accumulation firstly by the presence of a skull and mandible of this species in the assemblage, and secondly by the nature of the damage and modifications of the bones. The striped hyaena is probably now extinct in Qatar, and one of the bones was dated radiometrically to 580 ± 200 years. This bone showed characteristic signs of desiccation, and it is similar in preservation to the rest of the assemblage. The numbers and sizes of chewing marks are similar to those seen in spotted hyaena assemblages, and particularly when the maximum sizes of marks is taken into account they are distinct from canid chewing marks. The most striking feature of the assemblage is the abundance of finless porpoise skull bones representing at least 13 individuals, and this is taken to indicate that the hyaena was hunting or scavenging along the coast of the Arabian Gulf about 4km from the den site.

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Taphonomic Analysis of a Modern Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) Den from Nairobi, Kenya.

Amy G. Egeland, Charles P. Egeland, Henry T. Bunn.

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, SPOTTED HYENA, TOOTH MARKS, BONE BREAKAGE, FAUNAL ANALYSIS, PALEOFAUNA

[+info] VOLUME 6. NUMBERS 3 & 4. 2008 (3 issue)

This paper provides detailed taphonomic data on a modern spotted hyena (Crocuta croctua) den assemblage collected near Nairobi, Kenya. Weathering data, skeletal part abundances, bone surface modifications, and bone fragmentation data indicate that: (1) spotted hyenas (and other agents) accumulated bones at the locality over many years; (2) density-mediated attrition played an important, though not singular, role in structuring skeletal part patterning; (3) a majority of the carcasses acquired by the hyenas were transported incompletely back to the den; (4) the low level of competition characterizing the den resulted in reduced levels of bone destruction that could potentially be tracked in a similar fossil assemblage. Although these data present interesting possibilities for interpreting fossil bone accumulations, many more dens must be analyzed using similar methods in order to fully realize this potential.

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Taphonomic Analyses of a Hyena Den and a Natural-Death Assemblage Near Lake Eyasi (Tanzania).

Mary E. Prendergast, Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo.

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, HYENA DEN, NATURAL DEATH, BONE SURFACE MODIFICATIONS, SKELETAL PART PROFILES, EAST AFRICA, CARNIVORES.

[+info] VOLUME 6. NUMBERS 3 & 4. 2008 (4 issue)

Spotted hyena dens are usually characterized by moderate to intense ravaging of bones, high tooth mark rates and the presence of digested bone. This paper presents a taphonomic study of such a den and of a nearby natural-death assemblage. Together these studies widen the known range of variability of taphonomic attributes of assemblages accumulated and/or modified by spotted hyenas. The den, which is the focus of our study, is characterized by a low degree of bone breakage and ravaging, intermediate tooth mark frequencies, a moderate amount of trampled bone and a lack of digested bone. In a comparative discussion, drawing on several published hyena-made assemblages, we highlight several features of hyena accumulations that are quite variable. Such variability should be well-understood when applying actualistic studies to the fossil record.

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Bone-Crunching Felids at the End of the Pleistocene in Fuego-Patagonia, Chile.

Fabiana M. Martin.

Keywords: FELIDS, MYLODONTINAE, HORSES, FUEGO-PATAGONIA, PLEISTOCENE

[+info] VOLUME 6. NUMBERS 3 & 4. 2008 (5 issue)

The fragmented bone remains of extinct mammals recovered at several late Pleistocene sites in Fuego-Patagonia are analyzed. Indications of human involvement with the bones are not abundant and some of the sites are purely paleontological. However, all of them preserve large carnivore tooth marks. Some of the sites can be explained as accumulations produced by extinct felids.

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Paleoecological Information in Predator Tooth Marks.

Briana L. Pobiner.

Keywords: TOOTH MARKS, TRACE FOSSIL, PREDATION, SHARK, CROCODILE, DINOSAUR, RODENT, CARNIVORE

 

[+info] VOLUME 6. NUMBERS 3 & 4. 2008 (6 issue)

This paper reviews the evidence for tooth marks made by sharks, crocodiles, dinosaurs, rodents, and especially mammalian carnivores on modern and fossil bones. The ecological and taphonomic information revealed in tooth marks, including: predator identity, prey preferences, and feeding behavior and ecology are discussed, and a compilation of metric measurements of taxon-specific modern and fossil mammalian carnivore tooth marks from the published literature is also provided. Some recommendations intended to improve the scope and scale of future tooth-damage research are also presented.

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Reanalysis and Reinterpretation of the Kalkbank Faunal Accumulation, Limpopo Province, South Africa.

Jarod M. Hutson, Chester R. Cain.

Keywords: KALKBANK, TAPHONOMY, CARNIVORES, PREDATION HOT SPOT

[+info] VOLUME 6. NUMBERS 3 & 4. 2008 (7 issue)

Previous accounts of the late Pleistocene Kalkbank faunal accumulation cited humans as the primary agent of accumulation. Here we present the first in-depth taphonomic analysis of the fauna. Revised interpretation based on surface modification and bone breakage patterns reflect an overwhelming carnivore presence at the site. The only indications of human involvement with the fauna were a few stone tools and three possible hammerstone percussion marks. Porcupine involvement with the assemblage was considerable, but appears to be secondary to carnivore predation. The site likely represents a serial predation site where carnivores regularly ambushed prey near the margins of an ancient pan. Published accounts of fossil predation hot spots are rare, and much of the available data on these sites originate from modern landscape studies. Evidence from the Kalkbank accumulation suggests that patterns seen at fossil predation hot spots may not conform to patterns observed in modern accumulations.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: An Unexpected Encounter with a Bone Cruncher.

Amy G. Egeland, Charles P. Egeland.

Keywords

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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

Keywords

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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.

Keywords: CHARCOAL TAPHONOMY, PINUS SYLVESTRIS, NE IBERIAN PENINSULA, WOOD DECAY, COMBUSTION, POST-DEPOSITIONAL PROCESSES, FIREWOOD MANAGEMENT

[+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.

Keywords: AGE OF DEATH, DENTAL ERUPTION, WEAR, SEASONALITY, UNGULATES, VALDEGOBA CAVE

[+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.

Keywords: ARCHAEOZOOLOGY, BODY PART DISTRIBUTION, BONE WEIGHT, SKINNING, TANNING, “SCHLEPP EFFECT”, LATE MIDDLE AGES, HUNGARY

[+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.

Keywords: SIMA DEL ELEFANTE, ATAPUERCA, TOOTHMARKS, TALPA CF. T. EUROPAEA, MUSTELA PALERMINEA, MUSTELA NIVALIS, BEREMENDIA FISSIDENS

[+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.

Keywords: CORALLINALES (RHODOPHYTA), ROCKY SHORES, ALGAL COVERING, NEOGENE, RECENT

[+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.

Keywords: DISARTICULATION, DISPERSAL, VULPES VULPES, CERVUS ELAPHUS, TOOTHMARKS, BOSQUE DE RIOFRÍO, SPAIN

[+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

Keywords: VERTEBRATE TAPHONOMY, RED FOX, TEMPERATE CLIMATE, FOREST ENVIRONMENT

[+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.

Keywords: BONE, DIAGENESIS, AUTHIGENIC MINERAL, DINOSAUR, ARAGÓN

[+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.

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, ACTUALISTIC STUDY, RABBIT REMAINS, BUTCHERY, CUT MARKS, HUMAN CONSUMPTION, BURNT BONES

[+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

Keywords: MIDDLE PALAEOLITHIC, LATE PALAEOLITHIC, TAPHONOMY, TOURNAL CAVE,UNGULATES, CARNIVORES, SHORT/LONG-TERM OCCUPATIONS

[+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.

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, PELLETS, PREY REMAIN SELECTION, CARACARA PLANCUS, ARGENTINA HOT SPOT

[+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.

Keywords: SPHENOPSIDA, ARCHAEOCALAMITACEAE, LOWER CARBONIFEROUS, FLYSCH, PRIORAT, EUROPE, TAPHONOMY

[+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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The Taphonomist´s Corner: BIOLOGICAL CONCENTRATIONS OF AMUSIUM CRISTATUM.

Julio Aguirre

Keywords

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Volumen 7. Number 4. Year 2009.

2019-11-06T22:47:15+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 7. Number 4. Year 2009.|

VOLUME 7. NUMBER 4. 2009

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

Elizabeth Reed

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, DECOMPOSITION, DISARTICULATION, CAVES, NARACOORTE

[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 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.

Keywords: HARVESTER ANTS, FORMATION PROCESSES, SURVEYING, BIOTURBATION

[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 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.

Keywords: MIDDLE PLEISTOCENE, IBERIAN PENINSULA, CARNIVORES, GRAN DOLINA, BOLOMOR CAVE

[+info] VOLUME 7. NUMBERS 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.

Keywords

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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 8. Number 2-3. Year 2010.

2019-11-06T22:52:33+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 8. Number 2-3. Year 2010.|

VOLUME 8. NUMBER 2-3. 2010 [Paleoanthropological Taphonomy in Southern Africa Travis Rayne Pickering & Amy Egeland (eds.)]

Introduction to the special issue: Paleoanthropological Taphonomy in Southern Africa.

Travis Rayne Pickering, Amy Egeland.

Keywords

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Taphonomy of the Gondolin GD 2 in situ Deposits and its Bearing on Interpretations of South African Plio-Pleistocene Karstic Fossil Assemblages.

Justin W. Adams

Keywords: HOMININ TAPHONOMY, CARNIVORES, PALEONTOLOGY, CAVE SITE

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 2&3. 2010 (2 issue)

The GD 2 fossil assemblage was excavated from a densely fossiliferous, calcified in situ hanging remnant adhering to the northwestern corner of the Gondolin cave system in 1979. At present, this sample is the only sizeable (n=95,549) Plio-Pleistocene (~1.8 million years ago) South African karstic-derived faunal assemblage sampled solely from calcified in situ sediments with minimal recovery phase temporal or spatial aggregation. Prior description of the assemblage only briefly addressed the taphonomy of the deposits; this paper presents the first comprehensive taphonomic analysis of the total macromammalian assemblage. The demographic composition and element preservation of the small mammal remains are consistent with autochthonous accumulation through use of the deposition area as habitat. The distribution of large mammal individuals across taxonomic and body size categories, representation of elements, and preserved element modifications are most consistent with allochthonous accumulation by a leopard-like carnivore with only a minor porcupine contribution. Carcasses appear to have been accumulated both relatively whole and directly into the depositional area, likely through use of the GD 2 region as a feeding retreat. Only minimal hydrological or other postdepositional resorting took place prior to excavation, although significant comminution of the assemblage likely occurred during the recovery phase processing of the calcified matrix. Integration of the results with recent interpretations of the Gondolin karstic system and primate-bearing Plio-Pleistocene South African assemblages highlight the fundamentally idiosyncratic nature of individual taphonomic measures and processes that mediated the composition of the macromammalian fossil records in karstic deposits, even those with similar primary accumulative agents or from spatially proximate portions of the same cave system.

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Using Strontium Isotopes to Study Site Accumulation Processes.

Sandi R. Copeland, Matt Sponheimer, Julia A. Lee-Thorp, Darryl J. de Ruiter, Petrus J. le Roux, Vaughan Grimes, Daryl Codron, Lee R. Berger, Michael P. Richards.

Keywords: STRONTIUM ISOTOPES, CAVE FILL, TAPHONOMY, FOSSIL RODENTS, STERKFONTEIN, SWARTKRANS, GLADYSVALE

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 2&3. 2010 (3 issue)

Strontium isotopes (87Sr/86Sr) in tooth enamel reflect the geological substrate on which an animal lived during tooth development. Therefore, strontium isotopes of teeth in fossil cave accumulations are potentially useful in determining whether an animal was native to the vicinity of the site or was brought in by other agents such as predators from farther afield. In this study, we tested the ability of strontium isotopes to help determine the origins of fossil rodents in Gladysvale Cave, South Africa. First, biologically available 87Sr/86Sr ratios were established using modern plants recovered from three geologically distinct areas, the Malmani dolomite, the Hekpoort andesite/basalt, and the Timeball Hill shale, all of which were found to be significantly different. Strontium isotope values were then measured on tooth enamel of rodents from a modern barn owl (Tyto alba) roost in Gladysvale Cave. The results clearly distinguished modern owl roost rodents that came from local dolomite (67%) versus those from other geological zones. We then measured strontium isotope values of enamel from 14 fossil rodent teeth from Gladysvale Cave. The average and range of values for the fossil rodents is similar to that of the modern owl roost rodents. Fifty-seven percent of the fossil rodents probably derived from the local dolomite, while others were brought in from at least 0.8 km away. A pilot study of 87Sr/86Sr ratios of fossil rodent teeth from Swartkrans Member 1 and Sterkfontein Member 4 indicates that 81% and 55% of those rodents, respectively, are from the local dolomite substrate. Overall, this study shows that strontium isotopes can be a useful tool in taphonomic analyses by identifying non-local individuals, and has great potential for elucidating more of the taphonomic history of fossil accumulations in the dolomitic cave sites of South Africa.

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Investigating the Role of Eagles as Accumulating Agents in the Dolomitic Cave Infills of South Africa.

Darryl J. de Ruiter, Sandi R. Copeland, Julia Lee-Thorp, Matt Sponheimer.

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, EAGLE PREDATION, PROCAVIID, CERCOPITHECID, TAUNG CHILD, STRONTIUM ISOTOPES, ACCUMULATING AGENT

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 2&3. 2010 (4 issue)

The potential importance of large raptors as accumulators of early hominins was highlighted by the suggestion that the Taung Child was killed and deposited by an eagle (Berger & Clarke [1995] Journal of Human Evolution, 29: 275-299), and it has been hypothesized that eagles might have had a significant impact on the evolution of predator avoidance behaviors in early hominins (Berger & McGraw [2007] South African Journal of Science, 103: 496-498). In this study, we compare skeletal part representation of procaviid and cercopithecid fossils from the dolomitic cave infills of South Africa to a series of modern eagle-derived bone accumulations. We supplement skeletal part analysis with data on strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) in the Bloubank Valley that allow us to source fossils to particular geological substrates. Of the fourteen discrete faunal assemblages examined, nine were inconsistent with eagles as accumulators of procaviids or cercopithecids, while five revealed possible, though not definitive, evidence of eagle involvement. A lack of support for eagles as collectors of the smaller mammals that make up their typical prey weakens the hypothesis that eagles represented a significant threat to the larger, presumably more difficult to capture, juvenile hominins. The majority of the animals sampled for 87Sr/86Sr ratios at Swartkrans were consistent with being derived from local dolomites, including four Papio specimens, while we documented a non-local origin for a single procaviid and a single bovid from the Hanging Remnant of Member 1. In contrast, all of the procaviid specimens and a single bovid specimen from Sterkfontein Member 4 exhibited nonlocal strontium signals. Turning to the Taung Child, at present a clear link between it and the original Taung faunal assemblage examined by Raymond Dart cannot be established. In addition, preparation damage cannot be ruled out as the source of several marks on the Taung skull that have been putatively assigned to eagle talon damage. As a result, the hypothesized influence of large raptors such as eagles on the evolution of predator avoidance strategies in early hominins remains intriguing but unsubstantiated.

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A Multivariate Approach for Discriminating Bone Accumulations Created by Spotted Hyenas and Leopards: Harnessing Actualistic Data from East and Southern Africa.

Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Travis Rayne Pickering.

Keywords: SKELETAL PART PROFILES, BONE SURFACE MODIFICATIONS, CARNIVORE TOOTH MARKS, PREY MORTALITY PROFILES, MULTIVARIATE APPROACH

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 2&3. 2010 (5 issue)

Hyenas and large felids were important contributors of bones to the Pliocene and Pleistocene paleontological record of South Africa and elsewhere. Thus, discerning the taphonomic signatures of each is of great importance to paleoanthropologists who view those carnivores as predators and/or competitors of early hominins. Several neotaphonomic studies have emphasized characteristics that distinguish faunas created by hyenas and large cats. Recognizing that many of these studies contend or imply independence in variables that are actually interdependent, we conducted multivariate analyses on published data (including prey skeletal part profiles, tooth mark frequencies, anatomical patterning of tooth marks on bones, number of tooth marks per specimen [as a measure of gnawing], ungulate long limb bone [i.e., humeri, radioulnae, femora, tibiae and metapodials]) completeness and bone breakage) to demonstrate that bone accumulating behavior is quite variable for both hyenas and felids. Our results reveal that previously employed analogs are incomplete and transitory, and stress the need for more actualistic work on the topic. That work should lead to more fully realized referential analogs, replacing earlier, inferentially weak ones and providing powerful tools for archaeologists and paleontologists to use in interpreting the formation of fossil faunas. We end our recommendations with tentative endorsement of prey mortality analysis-mediated by application of actualistically derived and taphonomically sensitized prey age frequency data - as an additional method for distinguishing hyena- and leopard-accumulated faunas.

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Taphonomic Fieldwork in Southern Africa and its Application in Studies of the Earliest Peopling of North America.

Gary Haynes, Kathryn E. Krasinski.

Keywords: PRE-CLOVIS, ELEPHANT BONE-FLAKING, CUTMARKS, REPLICATIVE EXPERIMENTS, ACTUALISM

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 2&3. 2010 (6 issue)

Cutmarked and broken mammoth bones figure prominently in assertions that Homo sapiens dispersed into North America before the appearance of Clovis archeological culture, which is dated about 13 ka. Beside pre-dating Clovis, the bonesites differ from Clovis in that most lack lithic tools. Taphonomic studies, experimental replications, and arguments of plausibility have not perfectly supported or wholly disproved the assertions that the bonesites were created by human actions. Taphonomic and actualistic research in southern Africa reveals a wide range of noncultural and human-generated patterns in breaks, flakes, and cutmarks on modern elephant bones. These studies suggest that many (if not all) of the early modified mammoth remains do not indicate a pre-Clovis human presence.

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Taphonomic Processes of Bone Distribution and Deposition in the Tufa Caves of Taung, South Africa.

Jeffrey K. McKee.

Keywords: TAUNG, KARST TAPHONOMY, TUFA CAVES

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 2&3. 2010 (7 issue)

The tufa caves at Taung create a somewhat unique depositional environment for the bones that are brought in by various taphonomic agents. The Taung hominin skull, type specimen of Australopithecus africanus, and associated fossil fauna must be interpreted within the particular context of such tufa caves. Taphonomic experiments with three animals were conducted to elucidate the nature of bone distribution and deposition in a cave that is similar in nature to those in which Pliocene fossils were deposited. It was found that dry portions of the cave tend to preserve a higher proportion of the skeletal remains, and that the distribution of bones is relatively restricted. Skeletal representation of this nature parallels that found in the densely fossiliferous Hrdlika Deposits at Taung. This contrasts with the wet portion of the cave in which water activity tends to spread bones over a wider area and results in lesser skeletal representation. It may be postulated that fossils of the Taung Dart Deposits, perhaps including the Taung hominin, could have been deposited as water-borne carcasses. This taphonomic process would account for the singularity of the Australopithecus fossil and the sparseness of fossils in the Dart Deposits. Another important conclusion is that, as both dry and wet depositional processes can occur simultaneously in a single cave, sediments are not necessarily reflective of changes in conditions outside of the cave. Therefore, paleoecological interpretations of the Taung fossil sites must take into account the taphonomic agents and immediate conditions of deposition.

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What Taphonomically Oriented Research at Swartkrans Cave Reveals about Early Hominid Behavior.

Travis Rayne Pickering, C. K. Brain.

Keywords: MEAT-EATING, EXTRACTIVE FORAGING, HOMINID-CARNIVORE INTERACTION

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 2&3. 2010 (8 issue)

The paleoanthropological significance of Swartkrans Cave (South Africa) is as much for the inferences of early Pleistocene hominid behavior it provides as for its large samples of Australopithecus robustus and Homo erectus fossils. Most of those behavioral inferences emanate from the taphonomic studies one of us (CKB) conducted in concert with his 1965-1986 excavations at Swartkrans. After a fieldwork hiatus of 19 years, we are building on that seminal work, with the establishment of the Swartkrans Paleoanthropological Research Project (SPRP), a new round of excavations and laboratory studies at the site. The SPRP has a wide range of goals, including: obtainment of (uranium) U-series dates for speleothems distributed throughout the Swartkrans Formation; more accurate characterization of the technology and function of the site's stone and bone tools; further detailed analyses of the behaviorally informative zooarchaeological assemblages from the cave; continued investigation of burned bones, which might indicate hominid-controlled fire in the early Pleistocene. We review the entirety of this collective work, emphasizing its broader paleoanthropological significance.

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Where the Wild Things Were: Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Carnivores in the Cradle of Humankind (Gauteng, South Africa) in Relation to the Accumulation of Mammalian and Hominin Assemblages.

Sally C. Reynolds

Keywords: LARGE CARNIVORES; STERKFONTEIN; SWARTKRANS, SPATIAL PATTERNS, TEMPORAL CHANGES; EXTINCTIONS

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 2&3. 2010 (9 issue)

This paper examines the temporal and spatial distribution patterns of carnivore species in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site, South Africa. These taxa are inferred to have played an active role in the accumulation of the mammalian faunas, including hominins. There are distinct temporal changes in the predominating large carnivores at sites across the Sterkfontein Valley and beyond, although certain assemblages from the Cradle sites show evidence of time-averaging. By the mid-to late Pleistocene, the structure of the carnivore community was altered by the extinction of the three machairodont genera (Dinofelis, Homotherium and Megantereon), the giant hyaena, Pachycrocuta and the hunting hyaena genus Chasmaporthetes. The younger assemblages from Sterkfontein and Swartkrans show increasing proportions of smaller canids and felids. Extant carnivore species show a distinctive prey accumulation bias, depending on the body size and sociality of the species concerned. Social species such as the lion (Panthera leo), spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) and black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) are common in the Cradle deposits, both in time and space, and so were probably resident species in this region. Although present at certain sites, the relative scarcity of cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) and giant short-faced hyaena (Pachycrocuta brevirostris) indicate that these taxa are unlikely to have been permanently resident within the catchment areas of the sites. Certain taxa such as the leopard (Panthera pardus), are present at low levels at the majority of sites, and remain active in the Cradle of Humankind to the present day. These distribution patterns yield insights into the likely contributors to the fossil assemblages of this important region.

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Exotic Minerals or Ostrich Gastroliths? An Alternative Explanation for Some Early Evidence of Hominin Non-Utilitarian Behavior at Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa.

Christian Tryon

Keywords: MIDDLE PLEISTOCENE, SYMBOLIC BEHAVIOR, OSTRICH, GASTROLITH

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 2&3. 2010 (10 issue)

Identifying the onset of symbolic or non-utilitarian behavior remains one of the most important issues in the modern human origins debate, and as such, early evidence requires careful scrutiny. 'Exotic minerals' dating to >350 ka are one of several possible indications of hominin non-utilitarian behavior from Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa. Ecological data suggest an alternate hypothesis that these 'exotic minerals' are ostrich gastroliths accidentally introduced into the cave rather than the result of hominin collection and transport.

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A Taphonomic Study of Ochre Demonstrates Post-depositional Color Transformations.

Lyn Wadley

Keywords: OCHRE, EXPERIMENTAL FIRES, POST-DEPOSITIONAL COLOR CHANGE

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 2&3. 2010 (11 issue)

The predominance of red ochre over other colors in Middle Stone Age deposits has led archaeologists to suggest that this color was chosen for symbolic reasons. While this may have been the case, replication studies imply that the dominance of red ochre in archaeological deposits can result from either anthropogenic or post-depositional activities. Yellow, brown and orange hydrated iron oxides can be transformed from yellow or brown to red, or shades of red, through heat in simple camp fires. Ochre processing areas and variously colored ochre nodules found at Sibudu Cave, South Africa, confirm the presence of both hydrated and dehydroxylated forms of iron oxide. Replications demonstrate that yellow ochre can transform to red or shades of red when it is buried in sand under a fire. Temperatures of 300 to 400 degrees C can routinely be obtained 5 cm below a small camp fire and temperatures of close to 300 degrees C can even be achieved 10 cm below the centre of a fire. Such conditions are ideal for dehydroxylating iron oxides and transforming their colors. In the past, the transformation may sometimes have been deliberate, but on other occasions ochre nodules or ochre residues present on artefacts may have been heated serendipitously through unintentional proximity to heat; thus fires lit above ancestral camp sites can cause post-depositional change to the colloids or minerals thousands of years after they were used at a site.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Paleoanthropoogical taphonomy in Southern Africa.

Travis Rayne Pickering.

Keywords

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Volumen 8. Number 4. Year 2010.

2019-11-06T22:53:35+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 8. Number 4. Year 2010.|

VOLUME 8. NUMBER 4. 2010

The Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo): a Fish Bone Accumulator on Pleistocene Cave Sites?

Hannah Russ

Keywords: FISH BONES, EAGLE OWL, BUBO BUBO, LATE PLEISTOCENE, ACCUMULATION AGENTS

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 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.

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Element Survivability of Salmo salar.

Benjamin R. Collins

Keywords: SALMON, ELEMENT SURVIVABILITY, BONE DENSITY, TAPHONOMY, EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 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.

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A Taphonomic Perspective on the Origins of the Faunal Remains from Amalda Cave (Spain).

Jose Yravedra

Keywords: TAPHONOMY, ZOOARCHAEOLOGY, UPPER PLEISTOCENE, IBERIAN PENINSULA, TOOTH MARKS, CUT MARKS

[+info] VOLUME 8. NUMBERS 4. 2010 (3 issue)

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.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Identifying the predator: a cautionary example.

Jean-Baptiste Fourvel

Keywords

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