Hyrax and hare bones from modern South African eagle roosts and the detection of eagle involvement in fossil bone assemblages

  • Cruz-Uribe K
  • Klein R
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Abstract

Rock hyrax bones from South African eagle roosts comprise mostly cranial parts. Postcranial elements are much more weakly represented and, among them, bones of the hind limb outnumber those of the forelimb. The eagle roosts also contain remarkably few very young hyraxes. Assemblages of hyrax bones from Elands Bay Cave, Nelson Bay Cave, Die Kelders, and other important South African archaeological sites contain many more limb bones (relative to cranial elements), and they are generally much richer in forelimb (versus hind limb) elements. The sum suggests that eagles did not contribute significantly to the archaeological assemblages. However, in regard to hyrax age representation, the archaeological assemblages vary. Like the eagle-roost samples, those from Middle Stone Age (MSA) sites contain very few young hyraxes, while those from Later Stone Age (LSA) sites contain many more. The difference may reflect the presence of the bow and arrow and of domestic dogs only in the LSA. In contrast to eagle-accumulated hyrax samples, hare samples from South African eagle roosts comprise mainly postcranial elements, but the hare postcranial bones similarly come mainly from the rear limb. The archaeological samples of hare bones are much richer in cranial elements and in bones of the forelimb, and this suggests again that eagles contributed few if any bones to the archaeological sites. So far, it cannot be shown that hare age representation differs between eagle roosts and archaeological sites or between MSA and LSA sites. © 1998 Academic Press Limited.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Eagles
  • Hares
  • Hyraxes
  • Later Stone Age
  • Middle Stone Age
  • Skeletal part representation

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