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Vulture-accumulated bone assemblage from the Holocene of Brazil (1 Viewer)


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Ballejo, F., P. Hadler, J.J. Cherem, L. Bueno, J.S. Machado, A.B. Matarrese, and F.J. Fernández (2022)
The first fossil record of a bone assemblage accumulated by New World vultures (Gruta do Presépio, Holocene, southern Brazil)
Boreas (advance online publication)
doi: 10.1111/bor.12579

Here we present the first fossil record of a bone assemblage that could have been accumulated by New World vultures (Cathartidae). The bone remains were found in an archaeological rockshelter called Gruta do Presépio (GPR), located in the tropical rainforest environment of Santa Catarina State, southern Brazil, where groups of hunters and gatherers lived from the Early to Middle Holocene (9.3–4.6 cal. ka BP) until the Late Holocene (1.3 cal. ka BP). The results of taphonomic analysis of the archaeological sample are compared with actualistic taphonomic modifications produced by New World vultures. The findings of autopodials (mainly phalanges) of medium and large mammals, with a high degree of digestive corrosion but without tooth marks, could be related to the pellet deposit pattern of New World vultures. Seven mammal taxa associated with a forest environment were identified, four of which were obtained from pellets deposited by Cathartidae; these included some native taxa (Cervidae, Dasypodidae, Felidae and Tayassuidae) that are frequently consumed today by these scavenger birds. The bone and tooth remains contained in the pellets regurgitated by Cathartidae were found together with faunal remains discarded by humans that lived in GPR from the Early to the Late Holocene. This palimpsest highlights the relevance of archaeological and actualistic taphonomic studies.
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