Small carnivores could cause big changes in the deposits

Small carnivores could cause big changes in the deposits


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The presence of small carnivores, as the red fox is common in most of the Pleistocene sites European.

However, there are very few studies focused on characterizing its taphonomic signal (i.e. their diagnostic markings) in macrovertebrate bone assemblages.

A study recently published in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences in which it participates Ruth Blasco, a specialist in Taphonomy at the National Center for Research on Human Evolution (CENIEH), and members of the URV-IPHES, tries to model the performances of little carnivores at an experimental level and to find diagnostic elements that differentiate them from other agents, both at the level of bone modification and spatial alteration (dispersion of remains).

The results reveal that could have produced important modifications in archaeological sites.

"Our line of experimental work is fundamentally based on the simulation of different predation and interaction scenarios with the aim of characterizing the actions of wild carnivores involving not only small carnivores, such as foxes or badgers, but also large predators such as the brown bear ”, he explains Ruth Blasco.

The experimental works, which have the permission, supervision and collaboration of the Brown Bear Monitoring teams, the Alt Pirineu Natural Park, and the Department of Agriculture, Branch, Fisheries and Food of the Generalitat de Catalunya, are are developing mainly in the Parc Natural de l’Alt Pirineu, in the Lleida Pyrenees, where there is no human condition that can modify the behavior of these animals.

"This fact is fundamental when extrapolating the experimental data, since only these scenarios assure us the necessary isolation so that the taphonomic signal is not altered and the archaeological interpretations are adequate", indicates this expert in phonology.

This study is part of a major experimental project started in 2010 that arises from the need to address the taphonomic complexity of formation of some Pleistocene deposits.

Bibliographic reference:
Arilla, M., Rosell, J., & Blasco, R. (2018). "Contributing to characterize wild predator behavior: consumption pattern, spatial distribution and bone damage on ungulate carcasses consumed by red fox (Vulpes vulpes)". Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences (0), 1-21. doi: 10.1007 / s12520-018-0675-x.

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