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Testing the effectiveness of osteometrics in the identification of North American gallinaceous bird post-cranial elements

TitleTesting the effectiveness of osteometrics in the identification of North American gallinaceous bird post-cranial elements
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsWatson, JE, Heins-Ledogar, S
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Volume11
Issue6
Pagination2623–2636
ISSN1866-9557
KeywordsAvifauna, Galliformes, Osteometry, Phasianids, Zooarchaeology
Abstract

Galliformes, or game birds, are an order of birds commonly utilized by people and are regularly found in zooarchaeological assemblages. Morphological and size similarities make many galliforms difficult to distinguish from each other, thereby prohibiting specific identification of these taxa. Non-identified bones lead to a decrease in information available about archeological sites, particularly for bird species which provide a wealth of information about the economy and environment of historic and prehistoric sites. In this paper, we test the effectiveness of osteometrics in nine North American gallinaceous species to assess their utility for identifying post-cranial skeletal elements to genus or species. Statistical analysis of measurements successfully separated several Phasianidae subfamilies and identified the largest (turkey) and smallest (quail) species. Measurements driving variation between taxa were primarily long bone length and epiphyseal breadth. Few elements showed statistically significant differences within Tetraoninae and Phasianinae clades. We suggest that zooarchaeologists adopt long bone metrics as a standard, complementary technique to traditional morphological identifications for unknown galliforms.

URLhttp://link.springer.com/10.1007/s12520-018-0697-4
DOI10.1007/s12520-018-0697-4
Short TitleArchaeol Anthropol Sci