Differing impact of carnivores on bone assemblages in two East African Ecosystems. Anna K. Behrensmeyer Department of Paleobiology, Smithsonian Institution Briana L. Pobiner Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University. Flesh slicer. Bone crusher. Goals:
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on bone assemblages in two
East African Ecosystems
Anna K. Behrensmeyer
Department of Paleobiology, Smithsonian Institution
Briana L. Pobiner
Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University
Test the effects of different dominant carnivores on
recent bone assemblages
Impact on models of carcass and prey availability for
on Zebra Prey
1975 - 2003
Same transects, 1975 and 2002
Bones / Individual
HR, RO GAZ, IM WB, CW BF HP, RH EL
Increased Body Size
Hyena dominance and intraspecific competition is driving the change in carcass and bone survival.
Working hypothesis: change in carcass and bone survival.
If the top predator controls the destruction patterns of
prey skeletons, then Laikipia 2002 should be more similar to
Amboseli 1975 than Amboseli 2002-03.
Average Bones per MNI change in carcass and bone survival.
Bones / MNI
Laikipia 02 MNI = 27 change in carcass and bone survival.
Zebra Skeletal Part Survival
Amboseli 1975 and 2002-3 vs. Laikipia 2002
Ambo 1975 MNI = 45
Ambo 2002-3 MNI = 36
Observed / Expected
Laikipia 02 (N = 9) change in carcass and bone survival.
Completeness of Humerus and Femur
Ambo 75 (N = 48)
Ambo 02-03 (N = 17)
Damage Categories change in carcass and bone survival.
A: Minimal: tooth marks,
B: Moderate: marginal
gnawing; one end absent
C: Heavy: both ends gnawed or absent
D: Fragments only
0.70 change in carcass and bone survival.
Laikipia 02 (N = 9)
Damage to Humerus and Femur
Ambo 75 (N = 48)
Ambo 02 03 (N = 17)
Adult change in carcass and bone survival.
Adults vs. Juveniles
Ambo 02 - 03
Laikipia change in carcass and bone survival.
Conclusions change in carcass and bone survival.
Laikipia 2002 bone assemblage more similar to Amboseli 2002-03 than to Amboseli 1975.
Our prediction is not supported. Lion vs. hyena dominance does not leave a clear taphonomic signal in the bone assemblage based on the variables we used.
New Hypothesis: Damage levels may be better indicators of overall predator pressure on the prey populations than the signature of the dominant predator(s).
Carcasses (and prey) available to early change in carcass and bone survival.
hominins would have varied greatly in
time and space because of variablity in
predator consumption of carcasses.
Recognition of this variability could have been an important adaptive strategy for meat-seeking hominin individuals and groups.
With Thanks to: change in carcass and bone survival.
The National Museums of Kenya
The Kenya Wildlife Service
The National Geographic Society
David Western, Dorothy Dechant, Richard Leakey, and
all the individuals who have helped with Amboseli bone research
Fulbright-Hays Fellowship to B. Pobiner
Sweetwaters Game Reserve, Laikipia, Kenya