PACEA — De la Préhistoire à l'Actuel : Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie.

PACEA — De la Préhistoire à l’Actuel : Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie. UMR 5199, Université de Bordeaux, CNRS.

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A lire : Scientific Report "Prey size as a critical factor for bird bone taphonomy in Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) pellets. Anna Rufà & Véronique Laroulandie

by Anne-Cécile Jouvin - published on

Each predator hunts and consumes its prey in a particular way. Consequently, the traces left by predators on bones might vary according to the manner in which the prey are processed.

For this reason, prey size has been proposed as a key issue that affects the damage inflicted on bones. The Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) is one of the main potential predators of small prey found in archaeological sites. However, detailed taphonomic research describing bone accumulations produced by this nocturnal raptor is still scarce. The aim of the present work is to describe a modern accumulation of pellets originated by the Eagle Owl from this perspective, with a specific focus on birds. Particular attention is paid to prey size to evaluate the real significance of this variable when assessing bone damage. The results confirm that bone alterations reflect how prey was ingested, as the bones show greater damage with increasing prey size. This finding emphasises the complexity of characterising archaeological accumulations, as the alterations will vary according to prey size. In addition, bone architecture—or other aspects that cannot be controlled—may hinder accurate diagnosis and should be taken into account.

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