A Comparative Study of the Barn Owl (Tyto Alba) Pellet Taphonomic Signature Across Regions: Implications for Paleoenvironmental Reconstructions in Archaeological Sites.
Author(s): Heather McGuire
Barn owls (Tyto alba) are the most common accumulators of micromammal assemblages in archaeological sites. These assemblages have been shown to be a good proxy for local environments and thus, for paleoecological reconstructions. Previous research assumed all comparative samples of micromammal assemblages from barn owls pellets have a taphonomically similar signature. Surprisingly, this has never been tested; thus, reducing the overall robusticity of current paleoenvironmental reconstructions.
This study proposes to systematically test these assumptions by comparing the taphonomic signatures of micromammal assemblages accumulated by Barn Owls from northern Israel, South Africa, southwestern United States, and augmented with data from the literature. All bones were observed through an S8 APO Stereomicroscope and, a sample through a backscatter electron microscope (BSE). Variables included digestion and post regurgitation processes of weathering, fragmentation and abrasion.
Preliminary results suggest that differences between barn owl assemblages from different regions are minimal. These results indicate that the taphonomic pattern of micromammal assemblages from barn owls pellets can be used as a modern comparison in archaeological studies regardless of their geographic origin and provide useful methodological information for conducting paleoecological studies in archaeological sites.
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A Comparative Study of the Barn Owl (Tyto Alba) Pellet Taphonomic Signature Across Regions: Implications for Paleoenvironmental Reconstructions in Archaeological Sites.. Heather McGuire. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397711)