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The whale beneath the Barnacle: Rare Taxa in the analysis of Marine Invertebrates from the Tse-Whitzen Village Site

Author(s): Ryan Desrosiers ; William Damitio ; Sarah Campbell

Year: 2015

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In faunal analysis, rare taxa can potentially provide valuable biogeographic or socioeconomic information, but are inherently difficult to interpret and to integrate with quantitative measures. Working with extremely large assemblages highlights these issues. Among the half million specimens of shell identified from the Tse-Whitzen village site are more than 20 taxa represented by less than 30 specimens. There is no single explanation for the presence of taxa in very low numbers, and the interpretive significance of their presence varies as well. In this assemblage, some taxa are present only as modified artifacts, i.e., ornaments (jingle shell, abalone, scallop), and others are non-food taxa which are likely to have been brought in by non-cultural processes (small chitons, gastropods). On the other hand, two taxa that have potentially large economic significance may be rare because of preservation and processing factors (Coronula diadema, an obligate whale barnacle, and geoduck). To what extent can these taxa be brought into discussions of past behavior otherwise dominated by measures of relative abundance?

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The whale beneath the Barnacle: Rare Taxa in the analysis of Marine Invertebrates from the Tse-Whitzen Village Site. Sarah Campbell, William Damitio, Ryan Desrosiers. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395345)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -169.717; min lat: 42.553 ; max long: -122.607; max lat: 71.301 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America