Carnivore competition, bone destruction, and bone density

J. Tyler Faith, Curtis Marean, Anna K. Behrensmeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


In carnivore-modified archaeofaunal assemblages it is important to evaluate the degree to which carnivores have overprinted hominin behavioral signals. To examine the signals of increased competition for discarded bone, we present controlled experimental data on 33 simulated archaeological sites subjected to secondary consumption by spotted hyenas. We examine the relationship between competition, as measured by controlled numbers of hyenas and limb bones, and resultant levels of destruction and correlations between long-bone portion survivorship and bone density. Our results indicate that levels of destruction are equivalent regardless of the numbers of hyenas or long-bones included in the experimental assemblages. Correlations between long-bone epiphyseal and near-epiphyseal portions and bone density, however, do provide an indication of the level of competition. Results from the experimental study are used to highlight divergent levels of carnivore competition for hominin-discarded bone at the Plio-Pleistocene localities FLKN-Zinjanthropus and FLKN levels 1-2 from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2025-2034
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Bone density
  • Carnivore competition
  • Carnivore destruction
  • Olduvai
  • Spotted hyena
  • Taphonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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