What Chewed on That?

Taphonomic detectives can easily get caught up in wondering what kind of animal chewed on things that deteriorated and decayed to the point where, when those things were found, the remains of those things deserved to be called “the remains.”

A chapter of the book Forensic Taphonomy and Ecology of North American Scavengers, by Susan N. Sincerbox and Elizabeth A. DiGangi, explores many of the many varieties of the who-chewed-that question.

The chapter has this abstract:

Chapter 5 – What Big Teeth You Have: Taphonomic Signatures of North American Scavengers

There are several taxa from vertebrate species of the North American scavenger guild that are important from a forensic standpoint. This chapter presents a summarized account of their habitats, distribution, behavior, morphology, and taphonomic signatures on bone and soft tissue. Case studies from the literature are used to illustrate or highlight particular behaviors or signatures. Distribution maps and photographs of several taxa are included, as are tables that summarize ecological and morphological characteristics of each species such as habitat, dental formula, animal size, conservation status, and typical taphonomic signatures. The taxa and species discussed include canids (i.e., the family that includes dogs), vultures, deer, corvids (i.e., the family that includes crows), crocodilians, opossums, felids (i.e., the family that includes cats), raccoons, rodents, sharks, pigs, and bears.