ABSTRACT

The volume of literature on taphonomic modifications to faunal remains created by a particular animal species in an actualistic neotaphonomic (ANT) context has grown rapidly since the 1960s. A sample of 454 investigations on the taphonomic traces created by bone modifying animal species published starting in 1911 and through mid-2018 includes studies of 115 species of mammal and 78 species of bird. The most frequently studied bone modifying mammal species is spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) and the most studied bird is barn owl (Tyto alba). One-hundred seventy two of 609 individuals (28.2%) have authored more than one investigation. One-hundred eight of 417 texts (25.9%) compare faunal remains accumulated and modified by ≥ 2 species in an effort to establish signature criteria—modifications to carcasses and bones diagnostic of a particular bone modifying species. Two hundred and four texts (of 417 [48.9%]) document how one or more animal species modify bones, many with the unelaborated warrant that such documentation has paleozoological implications. Commonly reported variables include the kinds of modifications to bones (238 of 417 [57.1%] texts) and skeletal part frequencies (217 of 417 [52.0%] texts). Thoughtful consideration of taphonomic variables chosen for measurement and construction of interpretive models having dynamic sufficiency (the model includes the correct processes and variables to account for the field of inquiry), empirical sufficiency (included variables can be measured in the real world), and agreed upon tolerance limits (the model matches the empirical record sufficiently closely to be analytical useful) will enhance the value of ANT research.

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