Taphonomic alteration of avian bones
Gardner, Eleanor Elizabeth
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Modern avian taphonomic studies provide information on disarticulation, weathering, and preservation potential, as well as how remains reflect paleoecology, paleoenvironment, and evolution. However, relatively little inquiry has been conducted in this field. A review of 130 articles shows that disarticulation, environment, and climate bias the avian record; sex and age are unstudied factors. Two taphonomic studies, one on skeletal disarticulation/loss and another on leg bone weathering/degradation, indicate biological processes impact survival of remains greatly; also, preservation potential may be higher in warm temperate versus subtropical/tropical climates. Temperature and humidity are the climate parameters with the greatest effect on leg bone mass loss. The results suggest the avian record is biased toward males. Age did not affect carcass disarticulation/loss, but juvenile leg bones weathered faster than adult bones, indicating possible age-based differential survivorship. A modified avian bone weathering profile stresses differences between patterns observed in semiarid savanna versus humid coastal settings.