Title

23. Lion and wolf tooth mark frequency and morphology as a model for ancient carnivore bone damage

Faculty Mentor(s)

David B. Patterson

Campus

Dahlonega

Proposal Type

Poster

Subject Area

Biology

Location

Floor

Start Date

22-3-2019 11:00 AM

End Date

22-3-2019 12:00 PM

Description/Abstract

Predator-prey relationships are vital for structuring modern ecosystems, but have been especially challenging to investigate in the fossil record. Although there is abundant evidence of carnivore presence in ancient ecosystems in the form of behavioral traces (e.g., tooth marks), their fossils are rare relative to the animals they ingest. In this study, we use a large sample (n = 33) of modern Bos taurus (cow) tibia that have been processed by Canis lupus (wolf) and Panthera leo (lion) to assess whether morphology and location of tooth marks can be used to distinguish canids and felids in the fossil record. The tibia were divided into three sections (i.e., proximal, middle, distal) based upon their overall length. We developed a new categorization scheme (based upon published literature and our own observations) to characterize each tooth mark within these three regions. Our preliminary results indicate that the overall size and position of tooth marks can be used to distinguish wolf and lion behavioral traces. In particular, we find that lion and wolf differ in the manner by which they process the proximal end of cow tibia. This could indicate that lions prefer areas with higher flesh to bone ratios, which is consistent with interpretations based upon dental morphology. This study indicates that behavioral traces on fossils could be the key to unlocking predator-prey relationships in the fossil record.

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Mar 22nd, 11:00 AM Mar 22nd, 12:00 PM

23. Lion and wolf tooth mark frequency and morphology as a model for ancient carnivore bone damage

Floor

Predator-prey relationships are vital for structuring modern ecosystems, but have been especially challenging to investigate in the fossil record. Although there is abundant evidence of carnivore presence in ancient ecosystems in the form of behavioral traces (e.g., tooth marks), their fossils are rare relative to the animals they ingest. In this study, we use a large sample (n = 33) of modern Bos taurus (cow) tibia that have been processed by Canis lupus (wolf) and Panthera leo (lion) to assess whether morphology and location of tooth marks can be used to distinguish canids and felids in the fossil record. The tibia were divided into three sections (i.e., proximal, middle, distal) based upon their overall length. We developed a new categorization scheme (based upon published literature and our own observations) to characterize each tooth mark within these three regions. Our preliminary results indicate that the overall size and position of tooth marks can be used to distinguish wolf and lion behavioral traces. In particular, we find that lion and wolf differ in the manner by which they process the proximal end of cow tibia. This could indicate that lions prefer areas with higher flesh to bone ratios, which is consistent with interpretations based upon dental morphology. This study indicates that behavioral traces on fossils could be the key to unlocking predator-prey relationships in the fossil record.