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Intertaxonomic Variability in Patterns of Bone Density and the Differential Representation of Bovid, Cervid, and Equid Elements in the Archaeological Record

Y. M. Lam, Xingbin Chen and O. M. Pearson
American Antiquity
Vol. 64, No. 2 (Apr., 1999), pp. 343-362
DOI: 10.2307/2694283
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2694283
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Intertaxonomic Variability in Patterns of Bone Density and the Differential Representation of Bovid, Cervid, and Equid Elements in the Archaeological Record
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Abstract

Intertaxonomic differences in skeletal element representation in archaeological faunas may reflect preferences in the procurement, processing, transport, and/or consumption of these species by prehistoric foragers. However, the possibility that they also may result from preservational bias must be addressed before behavioral attributes of human hunters may be inferred. For example, at many archaeological sites, the remains of equids exhibit a different pattern of skeletal element representation than those of bovids and cervids. To evaluate the significance of such differences, this study examines intertaxonomic variability in patterns of bone density, the attribute most commonly employed as a proxy measure of resistance to destructive processes. Density data derived for a bovid (Connachaetes taurinus), a cervid (Rangifer tarandus), and two species of equid (Equus burchelli and E. przewalskii) exhibited very similar patterns, suggesting that values for one species may be used to interpret the survival patterns for other species of generally similar morphology. The differences in skeletal element representation between bovid, cervid, and equid species observed in archaeological faunas do not correspond with bone density and thus likely indicate selective treatment by human or other biotic agents.

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