Pinniped Taphonomy: Observations from a Northern Elephant Seal Breeding Colony Provide New Insights into the Taphonomic Processes on Pinnipeds
Actualistic studies on vertebrate taphonomy have been focused on terrestrial mammals, and little is known about the taphonomic processes affecting marine mammals. Pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, fur seals) exhibit an extensive fossil and archaeological record, the interpretation of which is often impeded by the lack of research on their taphonomic processes. We present the preliminary results of a taphonomic study performed in a modern breeding colony of Northern elephant seal (NES; Mirounga angustirostris) located at Año Nuevo State Park, San Mateo County, California. Direct observations along linear transects were performed, and more than 350 isolated bones and 30 pinniped carcasses in variable states of decomposition, were recorded. Remains of rodents, birds, and fishes were also noted. Most of the remains were of NES pups, followed by adult and subadult California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). The study documented the predominance of disarticulated limb bones and the existence of geographic gradients in the bone distributions. Overall, these results underline the need for new and more exhaustive studies incorporating knowledge of the functional anatomy and natural history of the species, to elucidate the taphonomic processes involved in modern, archaeological, and fossil assemblages containing pinnipeds.
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Pinniped Taphonomy: Observations from a Northern Elephant Seal Breeding Colony Provide New Insights into the Taphonomic Processes on Pinnipeds. Ana Valenzuela-Toro, Meghan K. Yap-Chiongco. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443129)
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min long: -124.365; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -93.428; max lat: 41.902 ;
Abstract Id(s): 20962