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The “Bear” Essentials: Actualistic Research on Ursus arctos arctos in the Spanish Pyrenees and Its Implications for Paleontology and Archaeology

Arilla, Maite ; Rosell, Jordi ; Blasco, Ruth ; Domínguez-Rodrigo, Manuel ; Pickering, Travis Rayne Petraglia, Michael D. (editor)

PLoS ONE, 2014, Vol.9(7) [Periódico revisado por pares]

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  • Título:
    The “Bear” Essentials: Actualistic Research on Ursus arctos arctos in the Spanish Pyrenees and Its Implications for Paleontology and Archaeology
  • Autor: Arilla, Maite ; Rosell, Jordi ; Blasco, Ruth ; Domínguez-Rodrigo, Manuel ; Pickering, Travis Rayne
  • Petraglia, Michael D. (editor)
  • Assuntos: Research Article ; Biology And Life Sciences ; Earth Sciences ; Ecology And Environmental Sciences ; Social Sciences
  • É parte de: PLoS ONE, 2014, Vol.9(7)
  • Descrição: Neotaphonomic studies of large carnivores are used to create models in order to explain the formation of terrestrial vertebrate fossil faunas. The research reported here adds to the growing body of knowledge on the taphonomic consequences of large carnivore behavior in temperate habitats and has important implications for paleontology and archaeology. Using photo- and videotrap data, we were able to describe the consumption of 17 ungulate carcasses by wild brown bears ( Ursus arctos arctos ) ranging the Spanish Pyrenees. Further, we analyzed the taphonomic impact of these feeding bouts on the bones recovered from those carcasses. The general sequence of consumption that we charted starts with separation of a carcass’s trunk; viscera are generally eaten first, followed by musculature of the humerus and femur. Long limb bones are not broken open for marrow extraction. Bears did not transport carcasses or carcass parts from points of feeding and did not disperse bones appreciably (if at all) from their anatomical positions. The general pattern of damage that resulted from bear feeding includes fracturing, peeling, crenulation, tooth pitting and scoring of axial and girdle elements and furrowing of the upper long limb bones. As predicted from observational data, the taphonomic consequences of bear feeding resemble those of other non-durophagus carnivores, such as felids, and are distinct from those of durophagus carnivores, such as hyenids. Our results have paleontological and archaeological relevance. Specifically, they may prove useful in building analogical models for interpreting the formation of fossil faunas for which bears are suspected bone accumulators and/or modifiers. More generally, our comparative statistical analyses draw precise quantitative distinctions between bone damage patterns imparted respectively by durophagus (modelled here primarily by spotted hyenas [ Crocuta crocuta ] and wolves [ Canis lupus ]) and non-durophagus (modelled here by brown bears and lions [ Panthera leo ]) carnivorans.

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