Trampling as a cause of bone surface damage and pseudo-cutmarks

Abstract

There have been many recent observations of trampling and its effect on bone surfaces1–8 as well as some experimental investigation of the process9–14. Although there is known to be a relationship between trampling and scratches on bones, there has been no detailed microscopic comparison with marks made by stone tools. As distinguishing cutmarks from other types of surface features is important in interpreting early hominid behaviour9,14–18 and the entry of humans into the New World7,19–20, we have examined possible mimics caused by trampling in an attempt to define diagnostic criteria for cutmarks. We find that microscopic features alone are not sufficient evidence to distinguish human-generated cutmarks from the results of trampling. We suggest different lines of evidence which together may achieve this goal.

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