The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Distinguishing cut marks from carnivore tooth marks using scale-sensitive curvature of mark profiles

BENJAMIN KEEPERS1, MATTHEW A. GLEASON2, JENNIFER A. PARKINSON3, JAY S. RETI4, PAMELA WEIS4, THOMAS PLUMMER3 and ROBERT S. SCOTT4.

1Aresty Research Center, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 2Surface Metrology Lab, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 3Department of Anthropology, City University of New York Graduate Center and The New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP), 4Department of Anthropology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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Cut marked bone resulting from butchery using stone tools provides evidence of both early tool use and the presence of meat in hominin diet. Recognition of cut marks has been based on qualitative criteria with respect to the shape of the mark cross-section and relies on the experience of the investigator. Thus, a quantitative and objective method for mark recognition is desirable. Here we present results of new methods to quantify shapes and sizes of cut marks and carnivore tooth marks. Impressions of wolf tooth scores on deer bones and stone tool cut marks on pig bones were scanned with a Nanovea white-light profiler with a lateral sampling interval of 2 µm. Mid-mark profiles were analyzed with a scale-sensitive curvature algorithm. Results of this analysis at a coarse scale (600 µm) were used to define the base of the mark trough as the region of uniformly positive curvature. This positive curvature method allows for objective and repeatable recognition of a mark margin for shape analysis and calculation of mean curvature across scales. Preliminary results of a small sample showed no apparent difference in mean curvature between wolf tooth scores and cut marks. However, the width of the region of positive curvature appeared greater for the cut marks compared to the wolf tooth scores (455 µm versus 362 µm) and curvature appears more variable for the cut marks. This later result might be due to a sharper profile for the cut marks.

This project was partly funded by a grant from the Center of Human Evolutionary Studies, Rutgers.

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