Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 9, pp 4891–4907 | Cite as

Abrasion in archaeological fish bones from sand dunes. An experimental approach

  • Romina FrontiniEmail author
  • Yolanda Fernández-Jalvo
  • María Dolores Pesquero Fernández
  • Rodrigo J. Vecchi
  • Cristina Bayón
Original Paper


Fish bones are still an unknown tool in taphonomic studies. We have carried out several experiments which have shown that fish bones may provide key taphonomic traits. Fossil fish bones in archaeological sites (from caves to riverbanks or seashores) are frequently result of predation by humans or any other predator, as well as abiotic agents. The original environment of fish is aquatic restricted to specific water contexts and the presence of fish in fossil sites provides relevant information regarding paleoenvironments, human/animal predatory behaviors, and site formation. In spite of the interest of fossil fish remains, most taphonomic experiments have been focused on mammalian fossil bones. This paper shows results obtained from experiments that help interpreting palaeoenvironmental changes, potential space-time mixtures, and site formation. Our experiments have provided distinct criteria to distinguish the action of sand projected by wind, friction of bones against sand substrates, or sand with or without water abrading the bone surface. Experimental results have been compared to an archaeological case: El Americano II site (middle Holocene, Argentina) to elucidate how the site was formed. Criteria obtained so far from each type of experiment described here greatly increase knowledge for interpreting other sites that yield fossil fish bones.


Sand abrasion Fish bones Sand dunes Argentina Experimental taphonomy 



The authors are grateful to Arturo Morales and Eufrasia Roselló for discussions and comments on this experimental project as well as preparation of specimens used in these experiments. The authors are also thankful to the technicians from the Laboratory of non-Invasive techniques at the MNCN (Laura Tormo, Alberto Jorge, Marta Furió, Cristina Paradela y Pedro Valverde).

The experiments could be performed thanks to international grants from CONICET and Ministerio de Cultura de la Nacion from Argentina. This work was supported by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the National Program Projects of the Spanish Ministry of Research [CGL2016-79334-P], the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas [COOPB-20287], Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica [BID PICT 2015 0272; BID PICT 2016 0368], and CONICET [PIP 112-201301-00362].


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CONICET-Departamento de HumanidadesUniversidad Nacional del SurBahía BlancaArgentina
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Ensayos TafonómicosMuseo Nacional de Ciencias NaturalesMadridSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de HumanidadesUniversidad Nacional del SurBahía BlancaArgentina

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