Dingo scat-bone ‘signature patterns’: an actualistic study and comparison of wild and captive scat-bone assemblages and interpretation of bone fragments from Witchcliffe Rock Shelter, south western Australia

Jess E. Reynolds, Joe Dortch, Jane Balme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2016 Australian Archaeological Association.
Dingoes are a likely contributor to late Holocene Australian archaeological sites and distinguishing bone refuse resulting from either human meals or dingo scavenging is a well-recognised problem. To date, little research has been undertaken to differentiate bone modifications caused by different Australian carnivores in archaeological assemblages. In addition, inconsistencies have been found between observations recorded from captive and wild contexts, confounding attempts to use the bone refuse of captive dingos as reference material for the interpretation of archaeological assemblages. It has been suggested that the best results in identifying predators are achieved by combining an analysis of tooth marks with fragmentation patterns. In order to identify dingo ‘signature patterns’ of modification and whether results vary between captive and wild populations, 31 wild and 25 captive scats were disaggregated and analysed. Consistent lengths and breadths of dingo tooth pits on bone from the scats suggest that pits are a good indicator of dingo bone modification, particularly when used in conjunction with fragmentation patterns. Bone deposits from the late Holocene site Witchcliffe Rock Shelter in southwestern Australia, were used as a case study to test the tooth mark and fragmentation patterns identified in the actualistic studies. High levels of fragmentation alongside the presence of tooth pits consistent with those of dingoes suggest that they contributed to the multi-patterned faunal assemblage. Further research to identify signature modification patterns of other Australian carnivores is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-231
JournalAustralian Archaeology
Volume82
Issue number3
Early online date6 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

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fragmentation
interpretation
meals
Rock Shelter
Signature
Actualistic Studies
Bone Assemblage
Dingo
Western Australia
Captive
Fragmentation
Archaeology

Cite this

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title = "Dingo scat-bone ‘signature patterns’: an actualistic study and comparison of wild and captive scat-bone assemblages and interpretation of bone fragments from Witchcliffe Rock Shelter, south western Australia",
abstract = "{\circledC} 2016 Australian Archaeological Association.Dingoes are a likely contributor to late Holocene Australian archaeological sites and distinguishing bone refuse resulting from either human meals or dingo scavenging is a well-recognised problem. To date, little research has been undertaken to differentiate bone modifications caused by different Australian carnivores in archaeological assemblages. In addition, inconsistencies have been found between observations recorded from captive and wild contexts, confounding attempts to use the bone refuse of captive dingos as reference material for the interpretation of archaeological assemblages. It has been suggested that the best results in identifying predators are achieved by combining an analysis of tooth marks with fragmentation patterns. In order to identify dingo ‘signature patterns’ of modification and whether results vary between captive and wild populations, 31 wild and 25 captive scats were disaggregated and analysed. Consistent lengths and breadths of dingo tooth pits on bone from the scats suggest that pits are a good indicator of dingo bone modification, particularly when used in conjunction with fragmentation patterns. Bone deposits from the late Holocene site Witchcliffe Rock Shelter in southwestern Australia, were used as a case study to test the tooth mark and fragmentation patterns identified in the actualistic studies. High levels of fragmentation alongside the presence of tooth pits consistent with those of dingoes suggest that they contributed to the multi-patterned faunal assemblage. Further research to identify signature modification patterns of other Australian carnivores is required.",
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AB - © 2016 Australian Archaeological Association.Dingoes are a likely contributor to late Holocene Australian archaeological sites and distinguishing bone refuse resulting from either human meals or dingo scavenging is a well-recognised problem. To date, little research has been undertaken to differentiate bone modifications caused by different Australian carnivores in archaeological assemblages. In addition, inconsistencies have been found between observations recorded from captive and wild contexts, confounding attempts to use the bone refuse of captive dingos as reference material for the interpretation of archaeological assemblages. It has been suggested that the best results in identifying predators are achieved by combining an analysis of tooth marks with fragmentation patterns. In order to identify dingo ‘signature patterns’ of modification and whether results vary between captive and wild populations, 31 wild and 25 captive scats were disaggregated and analysed. Consistent lengths and breadths of dingo tooth pits on bone from the scats suggest that pits are a good indicator of dingo bone modification, particularly when used in conjunction with fragmentation patterns. Bone deposits from the late Holocene site Witchcliffe Rock Shelter in southwestern Australia, were used as a case study to test the tooth mark and fragmentation patterns identified in the actualistic studies. High levels of fragmentation alongside the presence of tooth pits consistent with those of dingoes suggest that they contributed to the multi-patterned faunal assemblage. Further research to identify signature modification patterns of other Australian carnivores is required.

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