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Foraminifera – A new find in the microtaphonomical characterisation of bones from marine archaeological excavations

Guareschi, E.E.ORCID: 0000-0001-9883-9872, Haig, D.W., Tobe, S.S.ORCID: 0000-0002-4854-6278, Nicholls, P.K.ORCID: 0000-0001-7071-3055 and Magni, P.A. (2021) Foraminifera – A new find in the microtaphonomical characterisation of bones from marine archaeological excavations. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology . In Press.

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Foraminifera are marine single-celled organisms, ubiquitous in marine environments, present in brackish waters and absent in terrestrial locations. Their presence has been associated with archaeological and forensic studies only rarely, and just once and superficially with bones of terrestrial mammals. In this study, a new association is presented between foraminifera enclosed in the dissolving trabecular spaces of terrestrial mammalian bones, recovered in underwater archaeological excavations between 1968 and 1980.

Research on the new association aims to detail the micro-characterization of bone in underwater environments, leading to a better understanding of bone taphonomic trajectories, the chronological sequences of changes occurring between death and the incorporation of the remains of an organism within the depositional environment. The analysis of taphonomic trajectories is known to hold relevance in distinct disciplines, such as archaeology, palaeontology and forensic sciences.

Different foraminiferal taxa are linked to different marine environments, characterized by specific ranges of water depth, amount of light and oxygen, temperature and composition of sediment. The association between foraminifera and terrestrial mammalian bones indicates deposition in a marine or brackish environment, thus the analysis of the specific ecology of the identified foraminiferal taxa can point to a specific environment, adding information to paleontological, archaeological or forensics casework.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Medical, Molecular and Forensic Sciences
Publisher: Wiley
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