Differential skeletal preservation at Windover Pond: Causes and consequences

Christopher M. Stojanowski, Ryan M. Seidemann, Glen H. Doran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this paper, we evaluate the causes of differential skeletal preservation in the Windover Pond skeletal series (8BR246). We collected data on sex and age for approximately 110 individuals, and calculated a preservation score for each individual based on the presence of 80 skeletal landmarks. Our research questions evaluated the relationship between bone preservation and individual age and sex, and between the presence of preserved brain material and skeletal preservation, and the effects of burial location on bone preservation. The results indicate variability in average preservation for the sample (μ = 0.53, SD = 0.22) with an apparent lack of sex-specific (P = 0.79) or age-specific (P = 0.37) differences in preservation. The relationship between brain and skeletal preservation (P = 0.15) was not significant. The horizontal distribution of burials was not significantly correlated with skeletal preservation (north: r = -0.10, P = 0.93; east: r = 0.09, P = 0.45); however, vertical depth was a significant predictor of preservation (r = -0.31, P = 0.005), indicating that skeletal preservation decreased as burials were located closer to the ground surface. The observed variability in preservation scores may be related to the partial drying and resubmergence of the uppermost burials for the last few millennia. Comparison of Wind-over element-specific survival rates with previous analyses based on terrestrial samples (Galloway et al. [1997] Forensic taphonomy, Boca Raton: CRC Press; Waldron [1987] Death, decay and reconstruction, Manchester: Manchester University Press; Willey et al. [1997] Am J Phys Anthropol 104:513-528) affirms the relationship between element weight or density and bone survival. The unique taphonomic context of our study sample effected little change in bone deterioration processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Volume119
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bone preservation
  • Prehistoric Florida
  • Skeletal remains
  • Taphonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology

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