Avian Carnivore, Ungulate, and Effects on Bone

  • Diane Gifford-Gonzalez


This chapter describes the effects of vertebrate bone-modifiers other than mammalian and reptilian carnivores, including the disparate impacts of raptorial bird families, bone-consuming and bone-trampling herbivores and omnivores, and rodents. Many such actors create distinctive bone surface modifications or patterns of skeletal element destruction that allow the zooarchaeologist to identify their action on individual specimens or their bone accumulations. Reading aggregate archaeofaunal data from contexts where both humans and other bone accumulators could have resided requires knowledge of these actors’ distinctive traces on elements of species both could have accumulated. This chapter discusses whether and how microfauna accumulated by raptors can be used to reconstruct ancient environments, citing computer modeling of time-averaged accumulations in relation to natural fluctuations in rodent populations. Hoofed animals treading on skeletal elements may leave traces resembling cut marks, and the chapter reports on experimentally derived approaches to distinguish trample marks from hominid-inflicted cut marks at relatively low magnifications, using a few diagnostic variables visible at low magnifications. The chapter also discusses modifications to tusks and antlers during life that be mistaken for human artifacts, providing illustrations and references.


Raptors Acid etching Trampling Ungulate osteophagia Antler Rodent gnawing 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane Gifford-Gonzalez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA

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