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Toward Distinguishing Human and Raptor Patterning on Leporid Bones

  • Bryan Scott Hockett (a1)


Prehistoric Native Americans hunted leporids (cottontails and hares) for food, clothing, and to obtain raw material for the manufacture of bone tools such as awls. Leporids are also favorite prey of various carnivores and raptors, hence many archaeological sites may contain leporid bones that were deposited by both human and nonhuman activities. This paper provides data to distinguish specific agents and processes that affected leporid bones in archaeological sites. Human behavior tends to create hare tibia diaphysis cylinders, cut-marked bones, unidentifiable burned bone fragments, and assemblages with predominantly adult leporid bone specimens. In contrast, raptor behavior creates more cottontail tibia diaphysis cylinders, bones with beak and talon punctures on only one side, shearing damage principally to innominates and femora, and high frequencies of forelimb and juvenile bones when leporid bones are deposited mainly in raptor pellets.


Los aborígenes Norteamericanos prehistóricos cazaban leporinos (conejos americanos y liebres) para obtener alimento, vestimenta, y materia prima para fabricar instrumentos de hueso, tales como punzones. Los leporinos también constituyen presa favorita de varios carnívoros y aves rapaces; por consiguiente, muchos sitios arqueológicos pueden contener huesos de leporinos que han sido depositados debido a actividades tanto culturales como no culturales. El presente artículo proporciona datos para diferenciar agentes y procesos específicos que afectaron los huesos de estos animales en sitios arqueológicos. El comportamiento humano tiende a crear cilindros con las diáfisis de tibias de liebres, huesos con marcas de corte, fragmentos de huesos quemados no identificables, y conjuntos con predominio de leporinos adultos. Por el contrario, el comportamiento de las aves rapaces produce cilindros con las diáfisis de tibias de conejos americanos, huesos con perforaciones producidas por pico y garras, con cortes proncipalmente en la pelvis y el femur, y altas frecuencias de extremidades anteriores y huesos de individuos juveniles cuando los huesos son depositados principalmente en los residuos vomitados por aves rapaces.



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