Morphometric analysis of calcium oxalate raphides and assessment of their taxonomic value for archaeological microfossil studies

Crowther, Alison (2009). Morphometric analysis of calcium oxalate raphides and assessment of their taxonomic value for archaeological microfossil studies. In Michael Haslam, Gail Robertson, Alison Crowther, Sue Nugent and Luke Kirkwood (Ed.), Archaeological Science Under the Microscope: Studies in residue and ancient DNA analysis in honour of Thomas H. Loy (pp. 102-128) Canberra, ACT Australia: ANU E Press.

Author Crowther, Alison
Title of chapter Morphometric analysis of calcium oxalate raphides and assessment of their taxonomic value for archaeological microfossil studies
Title of book Archaeological Science Under the Microscope: Studies in residue and ancient DNA analysis in honour of Thomas H. Loy
Place of Publication Canberra, ACT Australia
Publisher ANU E Press
Publication Year 2009
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
Series Terra Australis
ISBN 9781921536847
1921536845
Editor Michael Haslam
Gail Robertson
Alison Crowther
Sue Nugent
Luke Kirkwood
Volume number 30
Chapter number 8
Start page 102
End page 128
Total pages 17
Total chapters 19
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
Plant microfossil analysis is an important tool for understanding prehistoric plant exploitation in the Pacific region, where macrobotanical remains rarely survive. Calcium oxalate raphides (needle-shaped plant crystals) have been identified in several tool-residue and sediment microfossil studies and in some cases classified to genera or species, yet their diagnostic potential has not been thoroughly assessed through quantitative reference collection analyses.

This study presents a morphometric analysis of raphides from key Pacific economic plants including aroids, yams, palms, pandanus, banana (Musa), Heliconia and Cordyline, using both light and scanning electron microscopy. Variation in raphide size and shape was compared intra- and inter-taxa to assess whether significant differences exist.

Results indicate that raphide size varies considerably within species, while similar shapes are found in a number of taxa, leaving little scope for taxonomic differentiation. The main exceptions are raphides produced by members of the Araceae (aroids), which may be identified at the genus level owing to their unique morphologies. These results suggest that raphides have some potential to be a useful taxonomic tool in archaeological microand macrobotanical studies, particularly if Colocasia esculenta (taro) and other aroids are present.
Keyword Raphides
Calcium oxalate crystals
Microfossils
Pacific archaeobotany
Microscopy
Morphometric Analysis
Q-Index Code B1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Book Chapter
Collection: School of Social Science Publications
 
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Created: Thu, 30 Jul 2015, 10:19:41 EST by Alison Crowther on behalf of School of Social Science