Volumen 1 Number 1 Year 2003

2019-11-06T21:29:39+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 1. Number 1. Year 2003.|

Introduction to a New Journal for Taphonomic Research.

Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Travis Rayne Pickering, Luis Alcalá.

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Quantification and Sampling of Faunal Remains in Owl Pellets.

R. Lee Lyman, Emma Power, R. Jay Lyman.


[+info] VOLUME 1. NUMBER 1. APRIL 2003 (2 issue)

Paleozoologists and taphonomists have long recognized various properties of quantification and sampling with respect to collections they study. Those same properties attend samples of modern owl pellets. The particular skeletal elements identified and the way in which prey remains are grouped for tallying both influence measures of relative prey abundance in a collection of 56 barn-owl (Tyto alba) pellets from southeastern Washington. As the number of prey and the number of pellets in a collection increases across 107 published collections of North American barn-owl pellets, the richness of mammalian genera per collection increases. As the size of the most abundant prey taxon in a pellet collection decreases, the average number of individual prey per pellet increases. Pellets with more identifiable mammalian remains contain more individual prey. Larger pellets contain more individual prey than smaller pellets. These observations indicate that the properties of quantification and sampling so well known to paleozoologists can be created during the biostratinomic phase of a taphonomic history. Modern owl pellets are an excellent educational resource for teaching principles of taphonomy and zooarchaeology.

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Large Mammal Skeletal Element Transport: Applying Foraging Theory in a Complex Taphonomic System.

Curtis W. Marean, Naomi Cleghorn


[+info] VOLUME 1. NUMBER 1. APRIL 2003 (3 issue)

The transport and processing of large mammal carcasses by humans seems to provide a perfect data-set for the application of foraging theory. However, such applications in archaeology have generally been unsuccessful in that the results diverge widely from the predictions of foraging theory, and ethnographic applications have been rare and the results mixed. These applications require good estimates of skeletal element return rates, but to date we have insufficient net return rate data. Using some basic parameters we can rank skeletal elements by gross return rate, and classify them into high cost and low cost elements. We examine three of the best data-sets on hunter-gatherer skeletal element transport (Hadza, Nunamiut, and Kua), and find that the Nunamiut and Kua data diverge significantly from the Hadza data. We argue that this difference is not due to differences in skeletal element transport, but rather that the Hadza data-set represents observed instances of transport while the Nunamiut and Kua data-sets represent discarded bone assemblages that were scavenged by carnivores. Thus the Nunamiut and Kua sets represent a first stage in bone destruction after discard by people, and this would be followed by further destruction as such assemblages are transformed into archaeological samples. This result, when joined to taphonomic data on skeletal element survival, leads to a general model of bone survival that separates skeletal elements into two groups: 1) a low-survival set defined by a lack of non-cancellous thick cortical portions, and 2) a high-survival set defined by the presence of thick cortical bone portions lacking cancellous bone. The archaeological representation of the low survival set is primarily the product of post-discard destructive processes, and most low survival elements also belong to the high cost set. The relative abundance of the high survival elements in archaeological contexts is primarily the product of what was discarded after processing, and most of these belong to the low cost set. Foraging theory needs to be linked to the realities of skeletal element survival and destruction as understood in taphonomy, connecting the general and middle range theory, respectively. We need a synthetic taphonomic-foraging theory model, and we provide some foundations for that model here.

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Quantitative Fidelity of Brachiopod-Mollusk Assemblages from Modern Subtidal Environments of San Juan Islands, USA.

Michal Kowalewski, Monica Carroll, Lorraine Casazza, Neal S. Gupta, Bjarte Hannisdal, Austin Hendy, Richard A. Krause Jr., Michael LaBarbera, Dario G. Lazo, Carlo Messina, Stephaney Puchalski, Thomas A. Rothfus, Jenny Sälgeback, Jennifer Stempien, Rebecca C. Terry, Adam Tomašových.


[+info] VOLUME 1. NUMBER 1. APRIL 2003 (4 issue)

Whereas a majority of previous fidelity studies have dealt exclusively with mollusks, this study evaluates the compositional fidelity of mixed brachiopod-mollusk benthic assemblages sampled from the San Juan Islands area (Washington State, USA). A total of ca. 2500 live specimens and over 7500 shells and shell fragments were recovered from nine samples dredged along a subtidal transect. The shell material was dominated by fragments; less than 500 dead specimens were represented by complete valves or shells. The compositional fidelity was high: over 60% of live species and over 70% of live genera were also found in the death assemblage and over 60% of dead species and genera were represented in the life assemblage. These high numbers were consistent for all analyzed size fractions (2.3, 4, and 12mm). The life and death assemblages displayed a significant Spearman rank correlation (r = 0.41, p = 0.0001) suggesting that, despite the biasing action of taphonomic processes and time-averaging, the relative abundance of species in the original communities is at least partly preserved in the resulting death assemblages. The results also indicate that a restrictive analytical approach, with fragments excluded from the datasets, appears to provide more credible estimates of diversity and fidelity than an exhaustive approach, which included all fragments. Differences between the two analytical strategies most likely reflect the presence of several genera (e.g., Chlamys), which were readily identifiable from fragments (the five most abundant species in the exhaustive death assemblage were all identifiable from even small and heavily altered fragments). The “Chlamys effect” illustrates a general principle, because species often vary in their morphological distinctness, the inclusion of fragments is likely to notably distort the taxonomic composition of the studied death (or fossil) assemblages and may depress estimates of diversity and evenness. This study suggests that mixed brachiopod-mollusk associations are reasonably well preserved in the death assemblage in terms of taxonomic composition and rank abundance of dominant taxa. Moreover, despite considerable microstructural and compositional differences between brachiopod and mollusk shells, the class-level fidelity is excellent when fragments are excluded from the analysis. The results are highly congruent with patterns observed previously in fidelity studies focused exclusively on mollusks.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner | Hungry Lions.

Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo.

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Volumen 2. Number 1-4. Year 2004.

2019-11-06T21:35:40+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 2. Number 1-4. Year 2004.|

VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 [Special volume on Debating Issues of Equifinality in Ungulate Skeletal Part Studies. N. D. Munro & G. Bar-Oz (eds.)]

Debating Issues of Equifinality in Ungulate Skeletal Part Studies.

Natalie D. Munro, G. Bar-Oz.


[+info] VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 (1 issue)

This paper introduces a collection of 11 papers originally presented in a symposium held at the 2004 meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. The papers debate and propose solutions for multiple aspects of equifinality in ungulate skeletal part studies and focus on four primary themes: (1) theoretical issues of equifinality; (2) methods for generating skeletal part frequencies; (3) the tools for analyzing skeletal part frequencies; and (4) attritional biases caused by natural and cultural taphonomic agents. Although debate continues over the methods used to quantify and analyze ungulate skeletal parts, most participants agree on the need for detailed publication of raw bone portion counts and bone portion coding and quantification methods.

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The Concept of Equifinality in Taphonomy.

R. Lee Lyman.


[+info] VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 (2 issue)

The term "equifinality" was coined by Ludwig von Bertalanffy as he worked to develop general system theory. In 1949 he defined equifinality as reaching the "same final state from different initial states" in an open system, one capable of "exchanging materials with its environment." Taphonomists have typically defined equifinality as reaching the same final state from different initial conditions and in different ways, without consideration of whether a system was open or closed. Natural historical processes involving organic tissues comprise open systems. Whether two alternate taphonomic hypotheses can be distinguished or not can be construed as a problem of taphonomic equifinality, or it can be construed as a problem of statistical indistinguishability. For both, the epistemological problem reduces to one of classification. The production of much greater knowledge and understanding of the many reasons (cause-effect relations) why skeletal part frequencies vary has resulted from use of the equifinality concept because that concept demands innovative analyses of previously unimagined variables.

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Measuring Skeletal Part Representation in Archaeological Faunas.

Donald K. Grayson, Carol J. Frey.


[+info] VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 (3 issue)

Most analyses of relative skeletal abundances in archaeological contexts are based on units derived, in one way or another, from the number of identified specimens (NISP): the minimum number of elements (MNE), the "minimal animal unit" (MAU), and the skeletal-element based minimum number of individuals (MNI). MNE values can be interpreted as if they were the results of a sampling exercise, telling us the chances that specimens drawn from a population of NISP values match in some specified way. Since this is the case, MNE values should scale to the NISPs for the body part involved. Since MAUs are generally calculated by standardizing MNE values by the number of times the part occurs in the skeleton, and MNIs by a combination of this and both age- and side-matching, there should be a very predictable relationship between the values of NISP, MNE, MAU, and MNI within any given assemblage. Using a series of assemblages from South Africa, Iran, and France, we show that this is, in fact, the case.

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Distinguishing Selective Transport and In Situ Attrition: A Critical Review of Analytical Approaches.

Naomi Cleghorn, Curtis W. Marean.


[+info] VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 (4 issue)

Skeletal element frequencies are at once enticing sources of behavioral information and thorny taphonomic dilemmas. Many archaeofaunal assemblages combine some degree of selective transport and in situ attrition, both of which affect the relative representation of elements. In addition, some analytical methods may add their own signature, further complicating the analysis of the element profile (Marean et al., this volume). Three methods have been applied to the problem of distinguishing attrition from selective transport: the Anatomical Region Profile (ARP), the Analysis of Bone Counts by Maximum Likelihood (ABCML), and the high and low survival element set model. We find that the ARP technique fails to perform as suggested. The ABCML is an innovative and promising line of inquiry, but is currently limited by methodological and theoretical shortcomings. The high and low survival set model appears to be an effective approach to analysis, but the actualistic tests of its power are still limited. We conclude that sensitivity to the issue of differential intra-element survival is key to future research into this problem.

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Skeletal Element Equifinality in Zooarchaeology Begins with Method: The Evolution and Status of the “Shaft Critique”.

Curtis W. Marean, Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Travis Rayne Pickering.


[+info] VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 (5 issue)

The most common pattern of skeletal part representation described for zooarchaeological assemblages is a head-dominated or head and foot-dominated sample (Type II assemblages). Although an important early study by C.K. Brain (1969) suggested strongly that such a pattern might be mediated by skeleton-wide variation in bone density, this conclusion was under-appreciated for nearly twenty years. Instead, a majority of researchers working on Type II assemblages that are widely separated by geography and archaeological time argued in each case that the pattern was a by-product of foraging strategies used by hominins. In response, a small group of researchers expanded on Brain's pioneering work, concluding that the Type II pattern is actually instead a methodological artifact caused by (1) a combination of taphonomic factors that selectively destroy bone portions based on relative density and (2) analytical procedures that subsequently selectively bias against those same bone portions. Here we discuss in detail specific methodological and data recording recommendations that should eliminate the identified analytical problems and assist zooarchaeologists in assessing the degree of bias in the published work of other researchers.

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The Fallibility of Bone Density Values and Their Use in Archaeological Analyses.

Y. M. Lam, O. M. Pearson.


[+info] VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 (6 issue)

As a proxy measure of resistance to destructive processes, bone density has played a central role in the discussion of equifinality and faunal representation. Bone density data sets have been derived for a diverse range of species, providing zooarchaeologists with a framework for assessing the occurrence of density-mediated destructive processes. These data sets vary tremendously in accuracy. In addition, the representation of the density of a bone portion as a single number -while convenient for quantitative analyses- obscures by oversimplification the many factors that affect the derivation of density values, a complicated process subject to multiple potential sources of variation and error. Density data sets and methods of quantitative analysis must be chosen with care, and the reasons for these choices made explicit. At the same time, it must be recognized that, despite the amount of attention that it has received, density is only one of many variables that affect the ability of a bone to restrict destruction.

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A Comparison of Photon Densitometry and Computed Tomography Parameters of Bone Density in Ungulate Body Part Profiles.

Mary C. Stiner.


[+info] VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 (7 issue)

Biases in ungulate body part representation in archaeofaunas potentially reflect human foraging decisions. However, the signatures of density-mediated attrition of body parts and human selectivity in response to nutritional content can overlap to a significant extent. Zooarchaeologists' techniques for analyzing skeletal representation for density-dependent biases must either address differential resistance among distinct skeletal macro-tissue classes, or compare skeletal representation within a narrower density range that is widely distributed in the skeleton. This presentation examines the potential comparability of bone density parameters obtained by photon densitometry (PD) and computed tomography (CT) within limb elements and across regions of the whole skeleton. "Unadjusted" parameters obtained by PD and CT techniques are in reasonably good agreement, and these parameters yield similar results when applied to patterns of skeletal representation in Mediterranean faunas generated by Paleolithic humans and Pleistocene spotted hyenas. More significant than the technique for measuring density in modern mammal skeletons is whether the density parameter values have been adjusted, arguably to compensate for problems of shape and the presence of large internal voids in limb bone tubes. The results of systematic comparison of density parameter variation among published sources, and their application to prehistoric cases accumulated by diverse agents, contradict the great preservation differential between spongy and compact bone specimens suggested by certain captive hyena experiments and the Mousterian fauna from Kobeh Cave (Iran). Only the adjustments made to the CT parameters for limb shafts (BMD2) accommodate the latter cases.

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Equifinality, Assemblage Integrity and Behavioral Inferences at Verberie.

James G. Enloe.


[+info] VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 (8 issue)

Body part representation is often used to identify site function, particularly transport to or transport from kill sites. Taphonomic research has indicated that a number of pre- and post-depositional agencies can result in similar part representation, largely a function of bone density, which can be measured in a variety of ways. A number of procedures for measuring bone density are discussed and applied to a late Upper Paleolithic faunal assemblage from Verberie, France. Comparisons of those densities with percent survivorship of reindeer bones from the archaeological site indicate that density-mediated attrition, most commonly associated with equifinality, is not primarily responsible for the skeletal element representation. A reverse bulk utility curve suggests that high and medium nutritional value skeletal elements were removed from this hunting site for subsequent processing and consumption elsewhere.

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Applied Models and Indices vs. High-Resolution, Observed Data: Detailed Fracture and Fragmentation Analyses for the Investigation of Skeletal Part Abundance Patterns.

Alan K. Outram.


[+info] VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 (9 issue)

The history and development of skeletal part abundance studies is briefly discussed. Two principal strands of this sub-discipline are the application of indices of food utility and bone mineral density to the interpretation of skeletal part abundance patterns. Both food utility and bone mineral density indices are derived from modern observations, underwritten by uniformitarian assumptions, and are used to model behavioural and taphonomic patterns in the selection and survival of bone elements. The application of such models is critiqued. It is argued that, whilst such models remain extremely valuable, they will always suffer from equifinality with regard to end interpretations. The solution to this problem does not lie in improving these models, or the data they derive from, though this may be desirable, but in the more time-consuming option of improving the resolution of archaeologically observed data. Several ways of doing this are briefly discussed. One of these options, fracture and fragmentation analysis, is outlined in detail. Sample applications of such an approach are presented and discussed. These include the use of fracture and fragmentation analysis to identify specific practices that can severely skew skeletal part abundances, such as bone grease rendering, and the identification of levels of pre-depositional and post-depositional fracturing within the taphonomic history of bone assemblages.

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The Derivation and Application of White-Tailed Deer Utility Indices and Return Rates.

T. Cregg Madrigal.


[+info] VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 (10 issue)

Utility indices have long been used to interpret ungulate body part representation at archaeological sites. The use of return rates, which are a more appropriate measure for studies of foraging efficiency, have been used less frequently. Until recently, zooarchaeologists interested in the prehistoric use of white-tailed deer were forced to use utility indices developed from other species. In this paper, the derivation and application of utility indices and return rates for white-tailed deer are discussed and two recently derived white-tailed deer utility indices are compared.

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Beyond Cautionary Tales: A Multivariate Taphonomic Approach for Resolving Equifinality in Zooarchaeological Studies.

Guy Bar-Oz, Natalie D. Munro.


[+info] VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 (11 issue)

We describe a multivariate approach that reconstructs the taphonomic histories of zooarchaeological assemblages. The approach applies a sequence of zooarchaeological analyses to bone assemblages to determine the most significant agents of assemblage formation. By examining the differential survivorship of bones from subgroups within an assemblage, problems of equifinality in skeletal part studies can be overcome. The multivariate approach follows three primary analytical stages including: a) a descriptive stage that summarizes the representation of key taphonomic variables of each assemblage; b) an analytical stage that investigates the completeness and fragmentation of skeletal parts; and c) a comparative stage that evaluates taphonomic variation amongst subgroups within a zooarchaeological assemblage. In a case study of six Epipaleolithic assemblages from the southern Levant, the multivariate approach reveals that intensive bone processing by humans for marrow and possibly grease was the primary determinant of gazelle bone survivorship, while small game taxa experienced independent taphonomic histories.

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Body Part Representation and Seasonality: Sheep/Goat, Bird and Fish Remains From Early Neolithic Ecsegfalva 23, SE Hungary.

Anne Pike-Tay , László Bartosiewicz, Erika Gál, Alasdair Whittle.


[+info] VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 (12 issue)

Assessments of site seasonality have increasingly relied upon three methods: 1) the presence or absence of seasonally available fauna, the oldest, most widely-used approach; 2) the population structure method, which relies upon the seasonal variation in the age and sex composition of the animals exploited; and 3) techniques such as skeletochronology or dental growth-increment studies. With all three methods, issues of equifinality result from the variability in body part representation. Cultural actions such as differential transport, modes of butchery, storage and culinary practices, in addition, natural taphonomic agents, also result in uneven body part representation, which can lead to false seasonal patterns. The consonance between different seasonality data for caprines and fish suggest that spring to fall occupations must have played a serious role in shaping the Neolithic animal bone deposits from Ecsegfalva 23, Hungary. Tooth sectioning data on caprines add late winter to this time interval. Finally, the broad seasonal spectrum of avian remains is potentially indicative of a year-round occupation.

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Volumen 3. Number 2-3. Year 2005.

2019-11-06T21:37:05+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 3. Number 2-3. Year 2005.|

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

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

Applying Actualism: Considerations for Future Research.

Briana L. Pobiner, David R. Braun.


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

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

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

Jessica C. Thompson


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

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

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The Physics of Cutmarks.

Sheridan L. Potter


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

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

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

Briana L. Pobiner, David R. Braun.


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

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

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

Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Rebeca Barba.


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

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

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

Foraging and Site Use.

Charles P. Egeland, Ryan M. Byerly.


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

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

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Volumen 3. Number 4. Year 2005.

2019-11-06T21:38:14+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 3. Number 4. Year 2005.|

VOLUME 3. NUMBER 4. 2005

Analysis of Bone Modifications of Bubo virginianus’ Pellets from Argentina.

Gustavo Norberto Gómez


[+info] VOLUME 3. NUMBERS 4. 2005 (1 issue)

Two samples of pellets belonging to Bubo virginianus were collected from two different environments in Argentina. One of them was produced by experiment using a captive individual in the County Zoo. The other sample was obtained from a wild exemplar in the province of Catamarca. Both samples were analysed together with the aim of categorising the total sample of Bubo virginianus obtained in Argentina. The main goal of the work presented here is to find the necessary tools to analyse the possible activity of predators both in the paleontological and the archaeological record in the Pampean region. The methodological procedure used was the one designed by Andrews (1990) for predators of the Northern Hemisphere. The modifications produced by the two individuals allowed the categorisation of the Bubo virginianus as a predator of Category 2. The sample was compared with the results of other species which were presented in bibliography from different parts of the world, and with the results of some species from the Pampa region, such as Tyto alba, Asio flammeus and Athene cunicularia, and especially other species from the same genus Bubo.

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The Taphonomic Relevance of the Analysis of Bovid Long Limb Bone Shaft Features and Their Application to Element Identification: Study of Bone Thickness and Morphology of the Medullary Cavity.

Rebeca Barba, Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo.


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

Recent debates on equifinality processes involved in skeletal part analyses have shown the accuracy of MNE identification by using long limb shaft fragments. Given the taphonomic and behavioural relevance of elaborating accurate skeletal part profiles at archaeological sites, the present work will show a combined set of features used to identify elements from shaft specimens. Landmark features (already in use by several researchers) are combined with shaft thickness/shape and with new diagnostic characteristics of medullary surfaces, which enable researchers to identify most of the shaft fragments from bovid animals that can be found in archaeological assemblages.

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Bone Accumulations at Brown Hyena (Parahyaena brunnea) Den Sites in the Makgadikgadi Pans, Northern Botswana: Taphonomic, Behavioral and Palaeoecological Implications.

Rodrigo Lacruz, Glyn Maude.


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

Bone accumulations at five brown hyena den sites representing two clans in the Makgadikgadi Pans region of northern Botswana were studied. Our intent was to assess the correlation between the taxonomic abundance at these den sites and the local faunas. Our statistical interpretation shows that such accumulations significantly correlate with the local fauna. A previously proposed criterion which suggested a carnivore representation of 20 % or more of the total Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI) at hyena-accumulated assemblages is re-assessed. The use of this criterion is important to assess the involvement of hyenas as accumulating agents in bone assemblages of unknown origin. We suggest that bone accumulations created by different hyena species may not always meet the proposed criterion. This is probably because of behavioral differences between hyena species. In agreement with other studies, we observed that juvenile brown hyenas are widely represented in the accumulations and that there is a high percentage of bones showing carnivore damage. We conclude that fossil assemblages purportedly accumulated by brown hyenas do provide information about the predominant ungulate taxa in the area and thus, the overall habitats.

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A Methodology for the Intraspecific Assessment of Heterogeneously Worn Hypsodont Teeth Using Computerized Tomography.

Justin W. Adams


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

Computerized tomography (CT) has been used to address many diverse issues within several subfields of paleontology since its development in the 1970s. Here, an extension of CT based paleontological analysis is described that applies this technology intra-dentally in an attempt to mediate some of the difficulties posed in directly comparing hypsodont dental specimens that exhibit differing degrees of occlusal wear. As a case study, this report describes the use of CT scans to produce virtual occlusal wear on several third molar specimens of the extinct suid, Metridiochoerus andrewsi, from the Gondolin GD 2 South African Plio-Pleistocene faunal assemblage. The GD 2 assemblage has yielded a number of M. andrewsi third molar specimens, including several that exhibit only superficial occlusal wear which limits assessment of their occlusal morphologies. The resulting CT scanned teeth from the GD 2 assemblage are compared both to other more heavily worn third molar specimens from the GD 2 deposits, as well as to M. andrewsi third molar specimens from the Swartkrans Member 1 assemblage. Results indicate that once the appropriate CT slice level has been selected, individual specimens exhibiting essentially any occlusal wear stage can be directly compared to one another. The methodology described here has applications for virtually any taxonomic group with hypsodont dentitions and will provide a useful tool for more accurate specimen identifications, for assessing changes and intraspecific variation in occlusal surface morphology throughout wear, and for potentially understanding the variation, evolution and functional significance of hypsodont dental morphologies among certain taxa.

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Dragging and Scattering of Camelid Bones by Fluvial Action in the Real Grande Gorge, Province of Catamarca, Southern Argentinean Puna.

Atilio Nasti


[+info] VOLUME 3. NUMBERS 4. 2005 (5 issue)

Research carried out in the southern sector of the Puna de Atacama, Argentina, enables taphonomic hypotheses concerning bone scattering and the fossil record to be tested. To that end, this study is based on bone samples from modern camelid (Lama sp.) carcasses. In the first stages of research I evaluated the role played by disarticulation and fluvial transport in relation to different skeletal elements. Subsequently, I tested the various sedimentary contexts where the bones were buried and their relative importance in the different topographic localities. In certain areas of the vega hydraulic transport power decreases in relation to certain topographic accidents and patches of vegetation that act as a retaining wall. The reduction of this form of transport produces bone sedimentation. As such, there is the possibility of elaborating certain expectations, when possible, for the formation of a future fossil record in some sectors of this environment. Without underestimating the importance of previously developed fluvial bone transport models, my research favours a model in which some skeletal parts are more affected by transport than others, allowing us to determine the existence of different patterns of bone scattering and fossil assemblage in this area. In brief, this article produces preliminary empirical evidence for fluvial transport of camelid bones in the high desert, evidence which could be used as an indicator of original conditions in environments where bones were accumulated and became fossilized.

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Taphonomic History of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic Faunal Assemblage from Ortvale Klde, Georgian Republic.

Guy Bar-Oz, Daniel S. Adler.


[+info] VOLUME 3. NUMBERS 4. 2005 (6 issue)

We present the results of a detailed taphonomic and zooarchaeological study of the faunal remains from the late Middle Palaeolithic (LMP) and early Upper Palaeolithic (EUP) bone assemblage of Ortvale Klde, Georgian Republic. A series of taphonomic tests and analyses are employed to reconstruct the depositional history of the bone assemblage and investigate LMP (Neanderthal) and EUP (Modern human) hunting and subsistence strategies. We identify the maximum number of skeletal elements, document bone surface modifications, the mode of bone fragmentation, and the demographic structure of the main hunted ungulate population. The assemblage is characterized by significant density-mediated biases, yet in situ attrition and carnivore damage play a minimal role in assemblage formation. Data suggest that most bone destruction occurred during site occupation, probably in relation to marrow consumption as indicated by the mode of bone fragmentation. Caucasian tur (Capra caucasica) is the major prey species throughout the LMP and EUP, and body part representation, the absence of selective transport, and butchery marks from all stages of carcass processing suggest that Caucasian tur were subjected to extensive handling. Analysis of Caucasian tur dental eruption and wear indicates that prime-age adult individuals dominate the assemblage. The results of this study, the first zooarchaeological and taphonomic study carried out on a Palaeolithic bone assemblage from the southern Caucasus, indicates that hunting strategies and meat processing behaviors were not significantly different between Neanderthals and Modern humans.

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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.


[+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.


[+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.


[+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


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Volumen 8. Number 1. Year 2010.

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

VOLUME 8. NUMBER 1. 2010

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

R. Lee Lyman


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

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

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Hyenas Around The City (Kashan, Iran).

Hervé Monchot, Marjan Mashkour.


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

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

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

Benjamin R. Collins, Pamela R. Willoughby.


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

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

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

Santiago Domínguez-Solera.


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

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

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

Antonio Rodriguez Hidalgo.


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Volumen 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


[+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


[+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


[+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


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Volumen 10. Number 3-4. Year 2012.

2019-11-06T23:02:06+02:00October 26th, 2019|Volumen 10. Number 3-4. Year 2012.|

VOLUME 10. NUMBER 3-4. 2012 [SPECIAL ISSUE. Edited by Jordi Rosell, Enrique Baquedano, Ruth Blasco, Edgard Camarós]

New Insights on Hominid-Carnivore Interactions during the Pleistocene.

Jordi Rosell, Enrique Baquedano, Ruth Blasco, Edgard Camarós.


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Competition Theory and the Case for Pleistocene Hominin-Carnivore Co-evolution.

Mary C. Stiner.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (2 issue)

Virtually every period in human evolutionary history provides examples of co-evolutionary processes with animal, plant or fungi species. Some of the earliest examples of co-evolutionary processes come from zooarchaeological studies of human interactions with members of the order Carnivora. Archaeological research on this subject goes back 50 years or more and follows numerous conceptual paths. This paper explores ideas and some of the evidence of hominin-carnivore co-evolutionary processes from the viewpoint of evolutionary ecology and the extent to which these ideas have progressed in recent decades. The challenge is to demonstrate that the evolutionary paths of co-evolving species were mutually constrained. Some key behavioral outcomes among humans include non-primate behaviors such as habitual food transport, extensive food sharing and efficient processing of animal foods-behaviors also critical to the success of many of the social carnivores. Another outcome argued to have arisen from co-evolutionary relations is partial complementarity in the patterns of prey age selection among humans and other large predators across African and Eurasian ecosystems. At the heart of ideas about cause in hominin-carnivore co-evolution are competition models.

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A Comparative Neo-Taphonomic Study of Felids, Hyaenids and Canids: an Analogical Framework Based on Long Bone Modification Patterns.

Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Agness O. Gidna, J. Yravedra, C. Musiba.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (3 issue)

Previous studies have emphasized the overlap in bone modifications by different types of carnivores. However, the documented overlap is not enough to prevent taphonomists from differentiating among carnivore types (e.g., felids, hyaenids and canids). The present work elaborates on previous experimental works and produces an analogical framework created with the intention of differentiating predator/scavenger bone modification by analyzing furrowing patterns on epiphyseal ends. Taking long bones from the same carcass type as a reference, it will be shown that the three major groups of carnivores (felids, hyaenids and canids) can be successfully differentiated. The patterns of long bone furrowing by these three groups will be presented.

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Food Web Structure during the European Pleistocene.

G. Rodríguez-Gómez, J. Rodríguez , A. Mateos, J.A. Martín-González, I. Goikoetxea.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (4 issue)

Several models that have been proposed for explaining human evolution involve human-carnivore relationships. Reconstructing the structure and functioning of past food webs is, therefore, essential for evaluating the assumptions and conclusions of these models. Here we present a preliminary attempt to reconstruct the structure of some Pleistocene food webs from the Iberian Peninsula and to compare them with recent food webs from several regions and environments. The present work is a first step towards the reconstruction of past food web dynamics and is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the role of humans in past food webs. Our analysis was restricted to mammals weighing more than 10 kg because they constitute the portion of the food web that allegedly included hominins. Predator-prey interactions for fossil species pairs are inferred from their body sizes, evidence from the fossil record and behavioural information from close living relatives. The number of potential prey per predator in Pleistocene and recent food webs is compared, and the relationship between the number of secondary consumers and the standing biomass of primary consumers, estimated using allometric relationships, is investigated. Pleistocene food webs show a distinctive architecture, with a relatively large number of secondary consumers and a small number of primary consumers. In addition, the size distribution of primary consumers also differs between recent and Pleistocene food webs. Our results point to high intraguild competition during the Pleistocene, especially during the Early Pleistocene, which may have conditioned resource availability for Paleolithic hunter-gatherer populations.

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Neanderthals, Bears and Hyenas, oh my! Competition for Exclusive Use of Space.

James G. Enloe.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (5 issue)

Pleistocene cave sediments present a complex geological, paleontological and archaeological record. Cave strata represent long time-averaged depositional processes that reflect substantial climatic variation. Parsing the occupation of caves by hominids and carnivores during the Middle Palaeolithic is one of the challenges of taphonomic research. Both groups served as accumulators of animal bone in what became palimpsests of repeated occupations. These are low-resolution deposits, making it difficult to discern patterning and spatial organization or the relationship between hominids and carnivores. The Grotte du Bison, Arcy-sur-Cure, France contains a well documented sequence of occupations by Neanderthals and other carnivores within a long geologic sequence that reflects climatic variation. This paper explores the periodicity and frequency of use of the cave by different species over time. Data suggest a low frequency of habitation by hominids and more frequent occupation by hyenas and other large carnivores during the Mousterian, with little inter-species competition for space at any given time. Later in the sequence, during the Châtelperronian, data indicate exclusive occupation by Neanderthals, followed by abandonment of the space to hibernating bears, with a shift in occupation by humans to the neighboring Grotte du Renne.

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Bone Modification by Modern Wolf (Canis lupus): A Taphonomic Study From their Natural Feeding Places.

Philippe Fosse, Nuria Selva, Wojciech Smietana, Henryk Okarma, Adam Wajrak, Jean Baptiste Fourvel, Stéphane Madelaine, Montserrat Esteban-Nadal, Isabel Cáceres, José Yravedra, Jean Philip Brugal, Audrey Prucca, Gary Haynes.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (6 issue)

Large carnivore neotaphonomy is used to provide guidelines for understanding fossil bone assemblages. However, few studies have been carried out on the taphonomic signatures of wolves (Canis lupus) in their natural settings. From 2001 to 2007, 56 wolf feeding places were studied in 2 geographic areas of Poland (Bialowieza, Bieszczady). We recorded ecological aspects such as prey selection, time span of carcasses use, scavengers' activity and the identification of prey from ungulate hairs found in scats, and taphonomic considerations, such as the number and type of bone remains, intensity of tooth modification on carcasses and the effect of digestion on skeletal elements observed in scats. Localities studied included kill sites (4 C. capreolus and 20 C. elaphus in Bialowieza, 29 C. elaphus in Bieszczady) and scavenging sites (10 B. bonasus carcasses in Bialowieza). In order to characterize taphonomically impact of wolf on medium- and large-size ungulates, the general bone modifications recorded in this study are compared with data from North American and Iberian wolf feeding sites as well as from other large carnivore (Crocuta) den contents.

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The Wild Wolf (Canis lupus) as a Dispersal Agent of Animal Carcasses in Northwestern Spain.

José Yravedra, Laura Lagos, Felipe Bárcena.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (7 issue)

Hominid-carnivore interaction is a constant feature along the Pleistocene: both species shared time and space, and contributed to the formation of bone assemblages. Thus, the identification of the agent responsible for the accumulations found in any site demands a series of analyses. Taking into account that wolves were frequent carnivores in the European Pleistocene as well as potential predators of medium-sized prey, we approach the study of the record they produce on carcasses. Based on previous works of their taphonomic impact on horse carcasses (Yravedra et al., 2011), we now focus on the distribution patterns they generate and the identification of wolves either as dispersal or accumulating agents in order to compare this behaviour with the patterns found at Palaeolithic sites. Our research suggests that wolves are wolves are shown to be agents of dispersal.

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Consumption of Ungulate Long Bones by Pleistocene Hyaenas: a Comparative Study.

Jean-Baptiste Fourvel, Philippe Fosse, Jean-Philip Brugal, Jean-François Tournepiche, Evelyne Cregut-Bonnoure.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (8 issue)

Hyaenas are important consumers of meat and accumulators of bone. A number of taphonomic studies have focused on modern and fossil assemblages accumulated by hyaenas with a view to developing greater understanding of palaeontological and archaeological assemblages. This research has revealed important variability in the characteristics of bone accumulations, not only through different methods of study, but also because of field context, intrinsic factors, such as occupation time and age profiles, and extrinsic factors, such as climatic conditions, prey species structure, competition. In order to characterize hyaenas as taphonomic agents, we present a diachronic comparison of the consumption of long bones of medium-to-large ungulates (size categories III to V) by cave hyaenas Crocuta crocuta spelaea based on Middle to Upper Pleistocene assemblages from Lunel-Viel 1 (Marine Isotopic Stage 9-11; NISP=2149), Artenac c10 (MIS 5c; NIPS=136), Peyre (MIS 5e; NISP=330), Fouvent (MIS 3; NISP=194) and Conives (MIS 3; NISP=523). Fragmentation of appendicular elements highlights two features; depending on the element, bones with significant amounts of meat and marrow (humerus, radius, femur, tibia) are widely represented by long shaft fragments with chewing damage, while metapodials, which are consumed to a lesser degree are often complete or have large portions of their shafts intact with often an end affected by scooping out on the caudal side. Comparison of bone accumulations from modern hyaena dens (Djibouti) and bone consumed by other Holocene and Pleistocene predators, Ursus arctos (Mont Ventoux) and Panthera onca gombaszoegensis (Artenac Ens. I and II), highlights the particular taphonomic signature and significant impact of Cave hyaenas on medium-to-large size prey.

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Late Pleistocene Large Mammal Paleocommunities: A Comparative Study Between Localities with Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), Cave bear (U. spelaeus) and Mousterian Lithic Assemblage.

Suvi Viranta, Aurora Grandal d’Anglade.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (9 issue)

Cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) and brown bear (U. arctos) fossils are common in the Eurasian Late Pleistocene deposits. Human presence is often indicated by Mousterian culture artifacts. The cave bear and the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis), a human group associated with Mousterian culture, became extinct before the Holocene, whereas the brown bear survived. Here we studied large mammal paleocommunities from fossil localities with brown bear fossils, cave bear fossils and Mousterian lithic assemblage in the Late Pleistocene to test if paleocommunities reflect different habitats for brown bear than the two extinct species. Second we asked if paleocommunities in sites with Mousterian culture assemblage reflect more the prey selection than the environment of the people. Our results indicate that Mousterian sites have higher abundance of equids and mustelids than the bear sites, but lower abundance of large carnivores, especially cursorial ones. These probably reflect prey preferences and competitive exclusion of large carnivores by people associated with Mousterian lithic culture. We found no significant differences in paleocommunities suggesting different habitats for brown bear, cave bear or for people associated with Mousterian lithic assemblage.

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Interactions Between Neanderthals and Carnivores in Eastern Europe.

Marylène Patou-Mathis.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (10 issue)

In Eastern Europe, they are many Middle Paleolithic caves, dated to the Last Interglacial of the First Wechselien Interpleniglacial, which delivered both traces of human and ursid occupations. Moreover, this occurs less frequently in hyena dens. By region, three types of archaeological sites have been evidenced: (1) poor in carnivore bones, (2) rich in bones of different carnivorous species, (3) rich in bones of one carnivore species, divided into two types: low anthropogenic occupation (3a) and high anthropogenic occupation (3b). In Eastern Europe, the exploitation of carnivores by Neanderthals is very rare, it appears slightly more intense in layers with industry attributed to the transition and the ancient Aurignacian.

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Human and Hyena Co-occurrences in Pleistocene sites: Insights from Spatial, Faunal and Lithic Analyses at Camiac and La Chauverie (SW France).

Emmanuel Discamps, Anne Delagnes, Michel Lenoir, Jean-François Tournepiche.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (11 issue)

In several caves, lithic artifacts or human-modified bones have been found as more or less associated with large faunal assemblages accumulated by cave hyenas. Even if these small records remain often hard to interpret, they are essential to understand interactions between human groups and other cave dwellers. Their study can bring new elements of discussion on critical issues such as the intensity of competition for shelter occupation or the potential existence of specific human activities in hyena dens (e.g. scavenging of meat scraps, collecting of bones). Here we present an interdisciplinary work on two Upper Pleistocene hyena dens, Camiac and La Chauverie, where a small number of Middle Paleolithic artifacts have been found. Results are provided by the combination of three disciplines: faunal taphonomy, lithic analyses (including studies of reduction sequences) and spatial analysis (threedimensional plotting, systematic refitting). At Camiac and La Chauverie, our interdisciplinary analysis highlights two distinctive types of human occupations. Sites that first seem to be closely related (hyena dens with scarce lithic artifacts) hide in fact a variety of situations, ranging from the succession of independent occupations of human groups and hyenas to potential traces of short human visits to hyena dens. Finally, by comparing our results with the regional record, we discuss the actual evidence for competition for shelter between cave hyenas and the last Neanderthals in southwestern France.

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Dhole (Cuon alpinus) as a Bone Accumulator and New Taphonomic Agent? The Case of Noisetier Cave (French Pyrenees).

Jean-Baptiste Mallye, SandrineCostamagno, MyriamBoudadi-Maligne, Audrey Prucca, Véronique Lauroulandie, Céline Thiébaut, VincentMourre.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (12 issue)

Noisetier Cave (French Pyrenees) has yielded Mousterian artefacts associated with numerous faunal remains. The faunal spectrum is dominated by chamois and ibex followed by red deer and bovids. A previous taphonomic analysis underlined the occurrence of two distinct types of bone accumulations. The red deer, bovid and a part of the ibex remains have been accumulated by Neanderthal. We suspected that the bearded vultures were responsible for the chamois and some of the ibex remains. The study of the carnivore remains illustrated the abundance of teeth and to a lesser extent bones attributed to both young and adult Cuon alpinus individuals. The identification of shed milk teeth demonstrates that this carnivore used the cave as a nursery den. According to several authors dholes never bring back carcasses to their dens in order to protect their offspring from other carnivores. However they tend to select an area inside their den to defecate. We analysed modern scats of wolf in order to constitute a taphonomic referential. Our results strongly suggest that most of the digested remains from the Noisetier Cave come from dhole scats. This carnivore can be considered, as Binford previously suggested, as a bone accumulator and consequently as a new taphonomic agent. Given the numerous sites where the fossil remains of this carnivore were identified we argue that the dholes could have biased the composition of faunal spectrums and maybe our understanding on human subsistence.

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Carcass Acquisition and Consumption by Carnivores and Hominins in Middle Pleistocene Sites of Casablanca (Morocco).

Camille Daujeard, Denis Geraads, Rosalia Gallotti, Abderrahim Mohib, Jean-Paul Raynal.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (13 issue)

Study of faunal series resulting from recent excavations in two caves in North Atlantic Morocco (Grotte à Hominidés - GH - and Grotte des Rhinocéros - GDR - at Thomas I and Oulad Hamida 1 quarries, Casablanca) has yielded new evidence concerning the gathering and processing of ungulates carcasses during the Middle Pleistocene in this part of North Africa. Preliminary taphonomic analysis of the macrofauna indicates that the carcasses were mainly introduced in the caves by carnivores. Additionally, marks generated by porcupines also occur. Dimensions and morphologies of tooth-marks and coprolites suggest that carnivores of different sizes (mainly middle-sized canids, hyenids and felids), as well as porcupines, used the cave. Cut-marks on the bones are absent at GH and scarce at GDR, despite their association with lithic artefacts and human fossils. This raises the question of the relationship between hominins and other competitors in these caves. The recurring question is to determine the modalities of niche partitioning by the various predators and/or carrion-eaters as well as the mode of introduction of artefacts and human remains.

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Hominin-Carnivore Interaction at the Lower Palaeolithic site of Boxgrove, UK.

Geoff M. Smith


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (14 issue)

Boxgrove is an exceptional Lower Palaeolithic locality. Fine grained deposits that contain large quantities of lithic tools and modified fauna have been identified and excavated over a large area. These large data sets allow for a unique discussion of hominin-carnivore interactions at a landscape scale. Modifications identified and reported in this study demonstrate that hominins had primary access to most carcasses and products. This primacy can be tracked across the site and relates to animals of different sizes and that inhabited different environmental niches. Where carnivore and hominin modifications have been identified on the same specimen, the former frequently overlie the latter. Furthermore, Boxgrove preserves evidence for the repeated episodes of hominin-carnivore behaviour within and across this landsurface along with evidence for single episode butchery at GTP 17. At Boxgrove there is evidence for direct hominin-carnivore interaction. There is a high intensity and quantity of hominin butchery signatures compared to carnivore modifications. The Boxgrove faunal assemblage clearly indicates that by 500 kya H. heidelbergensis was a top predator in this environment and capable of acquiring and securing prey, of various sizes, against other carnivores such as lion and hyaena.

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Did Neanderthals and Carnivores Compete for Animal Nutritional Resources in the Surroundings of the Cave of Zafarraya?

Miguel Caparrós, Cecilio Barroso Ruíz, Anne Marie Moigne, Antonio Monclova Bohorquez.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (15 issue)

This paper proposes a novel approach to study the interactions of Neanderthals and carnivores in the cave of Zafarraya by comparing the lithic archaeological and faunal records with a statistical path analysis, taking into consideration the ecology of the main carnivore predators and large herbivore prey foraging in the surroundings of the cave. The results of the analyses confirm and shed further light on previous taphonomic and zooarcheological research. The findings concur with the two-species Lotka- Volterra competition model for resources which stipulates that when niche overlap is complete the species with the larger fitness excludes the other. Our analysis shows that in the immediate vicinity of the cave, the fitness of Panthera was greater than Neanderthals', i.e. when Panthera was present it excluded Neanderthals as evidenced by the record of Capra and Rupicapra remains. It also shows that further in the southern hills and the polje where large herbivores roamed, Neanderthals had a greater fitness than carnivores which translated into their primary accumulation in the cave of remains of Cervus elaphus and other large herbivores. Coexistence from occasional niche overlap is apparent when one or the other predator scavenged, but from a time prospective it must have been short periods linked to seasonality, weather conditions and occupation randomness. In Zafarraya, the archaeological record would indicate that the degree of fitness of the herbivore prey accumulators, carnivores or Neanderthals, was related to the nature of the geomorphological domains in the vicinity of the cave and the favored foraging areas of hunted herbivores.

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The Complex Carnivore-rich Assemblages from Furninha (Peniche, Portugal): a Multidisciplinary Approach.

Jean-Philip Brugal, Jacqueline Argant, José António Crispim, Silvério Figueiredo, Alberto Martín Serra, Paul Palmqvist.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (16 issue)

The cave-site of Furninha is located on the sea cliff face of the small peninsular zone of Peniche in Portuguese Estremadura. Excavated by N. Delgado at the end of nineteenth century, it yielded a very rich and diversified Pleistocene vertebrate assemblage attributed to the early Late Pleistocene. A preliminary global overview is given in terms of geology, palaeobotany, palaeobiology s.l. and taphonomy. The fossils come from a ca.6 m deep pit in the basement of the karstic galleries with several layers. Carnivore remains dominate among large mammals, especially bear, hyena, wolf and lynx. In contrast, herbivore remains are few and show specific damage due to predators. Among the small mammals, a huge number of leporid bones as well as remains of insectivores and birds were found. Some few lithic artifacts occurred. The two first predators, bear and hyena, represent a well preserved collection with several skulls and mandibles as well as many complete long bones from both young and adult individuals. Hyenid remains are attributed to 'Hyaena prisca', a taxon known from late Middle Pleistocene sites, which survived later in Portugal. Its taxonomic and phyletic relationships are not well known, and first morphofunctional analyses precise its status and paleoautoecology. We detail the vertebrate assemblages recovered from the different stratigraphic layers, which will allow us to comment the degree of intra- and interspecific competitions, and to explain the origin of such bone accumulations and behaviors of these predators.

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Exploring Cave Use and Exploitation Among Cave Bears, Carnivores and Hominins in the Swabian Jura, Germany.

Keiko Kitagawa, Petra Krönneck, Nicholas J. Conard, Susanne C. Münzel.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (17 issue)

This study offers an overview of carnivore remains from archaeological contexts and provides evidence of interaction between carnivores and hominins in the Swabian Jura during the Middle and Upper Paleolithic (~50,000-27,000 uncal B.P.). First, we present data on the carnivores in the faunal assemblages from the area, followed by a general comparison of anthropogenic and carnivore modifications on faunal remains. Further, we describe some archaeological findings that demonstrate unique ways in which humans interacted with carnivores in the early and middle Upper Paleolithic. This study documents the pattern of carnivore representation in the zooarchaeological assemblages on a regional scale. The analyses of faunal assemblages across five cave sites in the two valleys of the Swabian Jura indicate intensified use of caves by humans, which corresponds to a decreased presence of large and medium sized carnivores at the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic in addition to the use of carnivore figures in the cultural repertoire of the Aurignacian and the increased exploitation of carnivores in the Gravettian period.

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Evidences of Interaction Homo-Cuon in three Upper Pleistocene Sites of the Iberian Mediterranean Central Region.

Juan Vicente Morales Pérez, Alfred Sanchis Serra, Cristina Real Margalef, Manuel Pérez Ripoll, Joan Emili Aura Tortosa, Valentín Villaverde Bonilla.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (18 issue)

Several cuon bones were discovered recently in three Upper Pleistocene archeological sites in the central area of the Iberian Mediterranean. This has proved that there were different types of interactions between dholes and prehistoric human groups. Firstly, evidence found in the archeological sites of Cova Negra and Coves de Santa Maira shows the use of carcasses of dholes by human hunter-gatherers. Secondly, the dhole remains recovered in Cova del Parpalló shows the dholes and humans could occupy the same habitat. In this case, the dhole died by natural causes in a small and isolated gallery before the human groups occupied the cave during the gravettian period. Associated with the dhole bones, there were also many ungulate mammal remains found. Some of these bones shows carnivore tooth marks. Due to these findings, we can presume that the dhole might have been the predator responsible for the bones discovered within the chamber. With the data provided we can come to the conclusion that this species had a more prominent role than we originally thought.

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A Taphonomic study of the Búho and Zarzamora caves. Hyenas and Humans in the Iberian Plateau (Segovia, Spain) during the Late Pleistocene.

M.T. Nohemi Sala, Milagros Algaba, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Arantza Aranburu, Ana Pantoja.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (19 issue)

The Búho and the Zarzamora caves (Segovia, Spain) are two small karstic cavities in the North of the Central System Cretaceous limestones, in the transitional region between the Sierra de Guadarrama Mountains and the Castilian Plateau. The infilling sediment was excavated during two periods, from 1988-1990 and from 2008- actuality, and subsequently has been assigned to the Late Pleistocene. The aim of this study is the taphonomical analysis of the macrofaunal remains from the old and the new excavation campaigns. The taxonomical list includes: Carnivora (Crocuta crocuta, cf. Panthera sp., Lynx sp., Canis lupus, Vulpes vulpes and Meles meles), Perissodactyla (Equus ferus, Equus hydruntinus and Stephanorhinus hemitoechus) and Artiodactyla (Sus scrofa, Cervus elaphus, Bison priscus and Bos primigenius). The abundance of hyena juveniles and coprolites, as well as carnivore tooth marks and digested bones suggest that the Búho and Zarzamora caves worked as a spotted hyena den during the Late Pleistocene. Nevertheless some human activity is also present in the Zarzamora cave site with evidences of cut marks in carnivore remains (Lynx sp.). The macro faunal association suggests an open environment where equids were the most abundant herbivores.

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Multidisciplinary Approach to two Chatelperronian Series: Lower IX Layer of Labeko Koba and X Level of Ekain (Basque Country, Spain).

Aritza Villaluenga, Alvaro Arrizabalaga, Joseba Rios-Garaizar.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (20 issue)

Lower IX level from Labeko Koba and X level of Ekain have been considered relevant because their archaeological attribution to the Chatelperronian. Nevertheless the association of these archaeological evidences with complex faunal assemblages, characterized by the high presence of carnivores, requires a detailed archaeozoological analysis in order to understand the real nature of human interaction in the site and thus asses the function of these occupations. The Labeko Koba IX lower layer is an occupation of cave hyenas (Crocuta crocuta spelaea), where we can identify, through a taphonomic analysis that a part of the assemblage had anthropic origin. On the other hand, the level X of Ekain is an accumulation of remains of cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) associated with a small assemblage of lithic artifacts. The particularities of cave bear ethology during hibernation suggest that ursids were not the main accumulator of other species bones. In this paper, we wish to contribute to a better understanding of human presence in these sites during the Chatelperronian, by comparing the results produced by the Archaeozoology and the Lithic Techno-tipology. Grace to this interdisciplinary study it has been possible to identify, in both levels, the role played by carnivores and humans in faunal remain accumulation and thus characterize the impact and nature of human presence in both sites. This paper could be a contribution for understanding the coevolution of humans and carnivores in caves of the southwestern Europe during the early Upper Palaeolithic.

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Cave Bear (Ursus spelaeus Rosenmüller Heinroth, 1794) and Humans During the Early Upper Pleistocene (Lower and Middle Palaeolithic) in Lezetxiki, Lezetxiki II and Astigarragako Kobea (Basque Country, Spain). Preliminary Approach.

Aritza Villaluenga, Pedro Castaños, Alvaro Arrizabalaga, Jose Antonio Mujika Alustiza.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (21 issue)

Cave bear (Ursus spelaeus Rosenmüller-Heinroth, 1794) are the most abundant taxon in the lower levels of many archaeological sites in Cantabrian Area. Through the scientific literature, archaeological levels have been consistently assigned to the different cultural periods, depending on the identified stone tools. In this paper, we would like to contribute to the interpretation of these sequences, through the accurate analysis of their archaeozoological accumulations. By presenting three examples, Lezetxiki, Lezetxiki II and Astigarragako Kobea, we will try to bring new data to this problem. Archaeozoological analysis carried out at these three stratigraphical sequences, have shown the existence of intense bears (Ursus spelaeus deningeroide Mottle, 1964 and Ursus spelaeus Rosenmüller-Heinroth, 1794) occupation and human groups ephemeral presence (through the presence of lithic implements), in the oldest levels (Lower Palaeolithic) stratigraphic series of the three cavities. Our aim is to present the preliminary archeozoological and taphonomic results of these three sequences.

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Bears and Hyenas from the Latest Pleistocene of Southern Iberia: Sima de Abraham, Priego de Córdoba, Andalusia.

Rafael María Martínez-Sánchez, Juan Manuel López-García, Antonio Alcalá-Ortíz, Hugues-Alexandre Blain, Raquel Rabal-Garcés, María Dolores Bretones-García, Joaquín Rodríguez-Vidal, Arancha Martínez-Aguirre.


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (22 issue)

This work describes the fossil accumulations recovered during the excavation of the sinkhole called Sima de Abraham (Sierra Alcaide, Priego de Córdoba, Iberia). This site is characterized by a prominent accumulation of mammalian fossil remains, including carnivores (especially bears, lynx, wildcats and spotted hyenas) and artiodactyls (red deer and ibex) among other species. Human activity does not seem to be the primary agent of accumulation, although a series of cut marks have been found on the articular cavity of the proximal ulna of a large bear, providing interesting insight into the interaction between bears and humans. The age of the deposit was set in the Late Pleistocene in a previous study according to the presence of the southern water vole (Arvicola sapidus) and subsequently corroborated by means of AMS and U/Th, obtaining an approximate age of 40- 30 ky BP, corresponding to MIS 3, in the latest Pleistocene.

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Human-Carnivore Interaction at the End of the Pleistocene in Southern Patagonia, Chile.

Fabiana María Martin


[+info] VOLUME 10. NUMBERS 3&4. 2012 (23 issue)

Fossil evidence about the interaction between carnivores and the first human colonizers of southern South America is presented. The time overlap of carnivores and humans in this region is discussed using the available Late Pleistocene radiocarbon chronologies. On the other hand, the selection of places to live in the regional space is evaluated. Cases in which both carnivores (Panthera onca mesembrina, Smilodon sp., Arctotherium tarijense) and humans are present in the same sites-deposits are then considered and it appears that their interaction was not important. Evidence for human utilization of sites dominated by carnivores is ephemeral at most, while the presence of carnivores at sites dominated by humans is never important. The faunal record from both classes of sites indicates that carnivores as well as humans shared some subsistence resources (Hippidion saldiasi and camelids). However, they differ in the selection of living spaces. Carnivores selected endogenous caves, while humans tend to use exogenous caves.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Hominid-carnivore interactions.

Jordi Rosell, Enrique Baquedano, Ruth Blasco, Edgard Camarós.


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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.


[+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.


[+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.


[+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.


[+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.


[+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.


[+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.


[+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.


[+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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