Controlling for Carnivores and Shaft Fragmentation in Skeletal Element Analysis: Some Insights from Southern Idaho Cave Deposits
Author(s): Ryan Breslawski; David Byers
Although caves are often excellent for organic preservation, they also attract carnivores and introduce the potential for rock fall. Carnivores systematically remove spongy long bone ends from assemblages, while experimental studies have shown that rock fall can fragment dense long bone shafts. As a result, these processes may bias faunal assemblages in opposing directions. This has implications for the interpretation of correlations between bone density and skeletal element frequencies in caves. We explore this problem with two bison dominated late Holocene paleofaunas from southern Idaho. The first fauna was recovered from Baker Cave, an archaeological site contained in a lava blister with abundant evidence for both carnivore scavenging and bone fragmentation. The second fauna contains bison remains recovered from a fissure in a lava flow north of Grace, Idaho. This fauna contains evidence for carnivore scavenging but not for human activity. Bone counts in each assemblage are significantly different depending on whether shafts or ends are counted. We use a taphonomic simulation to show how carnivores and rockfall might differentially bias long bone representation, and we suggest that zooarchaeologists should consider both processes in the interpretation of correlations between bone density and skeletal element representation in caves.
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Cite this Record
Controlling for Carnivores and Shaft Fragmentation in Skeletal Element Analysis: Some Insights from Southern Idaho Cave Deposits. Ryan Breslawski, David Byers. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396034)
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
Caves • Taphonomy • Zooarchaeology
North American - Basin Plateau
min long: -122.168; min lat: 42.131 ; max long: -113.028; max lat: 49.383 ;