Volume 46, Issue 2 (March 2001)
Carnivore Voiding: A Taphonomic Process with the Potential for the Deposition of Forensic Evidence
Carnivore defecation and regurgitation are taphonomic processes that create discrete concentrations of bone pieces and soft tissue fragments of animals that have been consumed. Experiments in which baboon carcasses were fed to leopards and spotted hyenas demonstrate that primate metapodials and phalanges are well represented as readily identifiable specimens in such scat concentrations. Most often phalanges are recovered from scat as whole, articulated digit units (composed of the proximal through distal phalanges) still covered with ligaments, intact skin and finger/toe nails. Considering the very basic similarities between baboon and human physiques, the potential applications of these findings to human forensic cases are significant. Fingers and toes possess features, including fingerprints and, sometimes, distinctive finger and toe rings, useful in the identification of human bodies.