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Open Access Publications from the University of California

 Taphonomic and Metric Evidence for Marrow and Grease Production


Wild-game carcass processing behaviors, including marrow extraction and grease rendering, are traditionally inferred from the nutritional utility of recovered elements. The expected survivorship of bones processed for within-bone fats, as well as the inverse relationship between density and grease utility, diminishes the power to infer these behaviors by element counts alone. The palimpsests of transport and butchery decisions as well as non-human site formation processes are revealed most clearly by taphonomic and metric analysis for carcass handling and density-mediated attrition. This article presents a means of inferring ruminant marrow and grease extraction by synthesizing lines of evidence for density and bone survivorship, selectivity of marrow-rich and greasy elements, presence of percussive impact marks and fractures to fresh bone, small specimen sizes, and high fragmentation rates.

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