Modeling the subsistence strategies of prehistoric groups depends on the accuracy of the faunal identifications that provide the basis for these models. However, our knowledge remains limited about the reproducibility of published taxonomic identifications and how they accurately reflect the range of species deposited in the archaeological record. This study compares taxonomic identifications at three Paleolithic sites (Saint-Césaire and Le Piage in France, Crvena Stijena in Montenegro) characterized by high levels of fragmentation. Identifications at these sites were derived using two methods: morphological identification and collagen fingerprinting, the latter a peptide-based approach known as ZooMS. Using a double-blind experimental design, we show that the two methods give taxonomic profiles that are statistically indistinguishable at all three sites. However, rare species and parts difficult to identify such as ribs seem more frequently associated with errors of identification. Comparisons with the indeterminate fraction indicate that large game is over-represented in the ZooMS sample at two of the three sites. These differences possibly signal differential fragmentation of elements from large species. Collagen fingerprinting can produce critical insights on the range distribution of animal prey in the past while also contributing to improved models of taphonomic processes and subsistence behavior.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Randomized Controlled Trial, Veterinary
- Journal Article
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't