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The use of tooth pits to identify carnivore taxa in tooth-marked archaeofaunas and their relevance to reconstruct hominid carcass processing behaviours

Authors
Journal
Journal of Archaeological Science
0305-4403
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
30
Issue
11
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0305-4403(03)00027-x
Keywords
  • Tooth Pits
  • Carnivores
  • Hominids
  • Furrowing
  • Epiphysis
  • Diaphysis
Disciplines
  • Archaeology

Abstract

Abstract Tooth marks on bones have been used as a proof of carnivore involvement in carcass modification in archaeological assemblages. Recognition of the array of potential carnivores that may intervene in the consumption of carcass elements accumulated at archaeological sites may condition the way archaeologists reconstruct hominid–carnivore interaction and resource availability for both types of taphonomic agents. The development of techniques aimed at discerning carnivore taxa according to tooth mark location and size has proven problematic so far. The present work introduces new information, based on the use of tooth pit size, to determine the types of carnivores that have modified bone surfaces. It is concluded that tooth marks alone cannot be used to differentiate among specific taxa, unless the analysis of tooth pits is carried out taking into account their distribution and ranges of variation in large samples, together with other variables, such as the location of tooth marks according to bone section and element, and the anatomical distribution of furrowing. Even so, the attribution of specific bone damage to determined carnivores can only be confidently made when comparing small-sized versus large-sized carnivores.

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