Crocodile ecology and the taphonomy of early Australasian sites

Westaway, Michael C., Thompson, Jessica C., Wood, Walter B. and Njau, Jackson (2011) Crocodile ecology and the taphonomy of early Australasian sites. Environmental Archaeology, 16 2: 124-136. doi:10.1179/174963111X13110803260930

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Author Westaway, Michael C.
Thompson, Jessica C.
Wood, Walter B.
Njau, Jackson
Title Crocodile ecology and the taphonomy of early Australasian sites
Journal name Environmental Archaeology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1461-4103
Publication date 2011-10
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1179/174963111X13110803260930
Volume 16
Issue 2
Start page 124
End page 136
Total pages 13
Place of publication Leeds, W. Yorks., United Kingdom
Publisher Maney Publishing
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Humans and human ancestors have exploited wetland resources for at least two million years. The most significant predators in these landscapes are crocodiles, which leads to two potential taphonomic problems: 1) human-accumulated bones may become intermingled with crocodile-modified bones; and 2) hominins themselves may have been victims of crocodiles. Davidson and Solomon (1990) significantly contributed to this literature through theirsuggestion that a crocodile attack led to the tooth marks on the type specimen of Homo habilis (OH 7) found in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. The Australasian tropics were also home to a variety of crocodilian species, crocodile damage to hominin bones being inferred in Trinil and Sangiran, Java. Furthermore, two Pleistocene Australian archaeological sites have stone artefacts in association with crocodile-damaged bone. A referential taphonomic framework is needed to understand the degree and nature of crocodile-hominin interactions on paleolandscapes of Sunda, the ancient Pleistocene landmass incorporating the islands of SE Asia, and Sahul, the Pleistocene landmass of ancient Australia incorporating Papua New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania. This paper provides initial results from crocodile feeding experiments aimed at characterising feeding damage inflicted on bones by the largest extant Australasian crocodile, Crocodylus porosus. Due to close similarity among Crocodylus species in dental and cranial morphology there are some general patterns in the way they modify bones. However, some differences arise when the taphonomic signatures are compared to those of the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). We suggest that these differences are attributable to evolved differences in the feeding ecologies of the two species.
Keyword Taphonomy
Australasian archaeology
Feeding experiments
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Special issue - Recent studies in Australian palaeoecology and zooarchaeology: A volume in honour of the late Su Solomon

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 8 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 9 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 28 Oct 2011, 12:21:01 EST by Dr Jessica Thompson on behalf of School of Social Science