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(a) Photographs of the Olduvai Hominid 1 (OH1) skeleton at the time of excavation in 1913 and (b)–(d) progressive excavation of the sampled chest cavity (modified after Reck, 1926). 

(a) Photographs of the Olduvai Hominid 1 (OH1) skeleton at the time of excavation in 1913 and (b)–(d) progressive excavation of the sampled chest cavity (modified after Reck, 1926). 

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This paper presents a case study of the Late Pleistocene skeletal remains of Olduvai Hominid 1 (OH1), which were unearthed in Tanzania. Excavated in 1913, this fossil shows severe damage due to subterranean termites (Insecta: Isoptera). By combining methods to quantify and locate traces on the skeleton with the study of the different taphonomic pro...

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Context 1
... though the exact orientation of the skeleton in the site remains unknown, it is clearly a single- individual deposit. The skeleton was lying on its right side in a hypercontracted position with the craniofacial block, the mandible and the upper and lower left limbs exposed on their left side [ Figure 3(a)]. ...
Context 2
... figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com] state of decay. We assume that decomposition occurred in a filled space, as all the bones of the lower and upper limbs are in anatomical connection (humerus-radius-ulna and femur-tibia; Figure 3). In addition, a number of unstable joints are preserved, notably the left patella (Figure 4 However, some observations remain unclear and force us to suspect a delayed infill of the grave that could be related to the argillaceous nature of the sediments but also, potentially, to a flexible and perishable container. ...
Context 3
... movements are known in the literature as thorax flattening, rotation of the spinal segment (Duday, 1990), reorientation of the clavicles, a very tight intersegmental angle of limbs, and finally, a position indicating constraint effects or the hypercontracted position of some limbs ( Acotto et al., 2005;Duday, 1990;Maureille & Sellier, 1996). Because all of these effects can be seen in the photographs of the skeleton (Figures 3 and 4), we cannot rule out the possibility of a delayed infill. ...

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Article
Full-text available
This paper presents a case study of the Late Pleistocene skeletal remains of Olduvai Hominid 1, which were unearthed in Tanzania. Excavated in 1913, this fossil shows severe damage due to subterranean termites (Insecta: Isoptera). By combining methods to quantify and locate traces on the skeleton with the study of the different taphonomic processes...

Citations

... This identification is primarily supported by the experience observing fossil and modern sites and by experimental studies (e.g., [1][2][3]). However, insects have not been considered as a major taphonomic agent until recently [6][7][8][9][10]. In fact, insect damage has often been inferred in the fossil record with no comparative data. ...
... Holden et al. [35] found in an experiment that both dermestid and tenebrionid larvae leave dif-ferent kinds of damage in different stages of carcass decay, so they conceive that other beetle families may modify bone as well. Also, several researchers have described either archaeological or palaeontological examples of bone alteration by termites [6,10,36,37]. Experimental studies have shown that they produce striations, boreholes, edge gnawing, pits with smooth base, pitting, destruction, smoothed abrasion, polish, surface removal and surface coating. The last two types of damage are more frequent [14]. ...
... Regarding termites' traces, we recognized pits with emanating striae that resembled star-shaped marks, previously associated with termites' action [6,10,44]. The presence of surface coating as a residue (probably made of faecal matter, earth, wood, and saliva [14,36]) and bone decoloring around it may support the identification of this bonemarker. ...
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The La Guillerma archaeological locality is located in the northeast sector of Buenos Aires province (Argentina). Two of its sites (LG1 and LG5), dated between ca. 1400- and 600-years BP, have a great amount of faunal remains including deer, rodents, fish and small birds that are subjected to taphonomic agents and processes (e.g., weathering, manganese, roots). Previous studies have shown osteophagic behaviour in different insects (e.g., Coleoptera, Blattodea). In this paper, we evaluate their incidence on La Guillerma faunal assemblage. We performed an analysis on marks that were identified in bone remains of various taxa and applied the criteria for identifying bone alteration by insects (i.e., by measuring each trace and comparing them with the types of insect marks described in the literature). Fifteen specimens (LG1 = 6 and LG5 = 9) exhibited different types of modifications (e.g., pits with striae in base, pits with emanating striae, striations) that are related to the action of insects. Although the proportion of affected bones is low in relation to the total sample, we highlight our study as the first detailed analysis of insect marks on archaeological bones from Argentina. We also emphasize the significance of addressing insect-produced modifications on Argentinean archaeological sites.
... Renewed interest in the paleobiology of Olduvai Hominid I (OH1, Olduvai [Oldupai] Gorge, northern Tanzania)-principally concerning morphological variation and burial taphonomy (Crevecoeur et al., 2016;Matu, Crevecoeur, & Huchet, 2017;Tryon et al., 2015)provided an opportunity to reexamine the entire dentition with an emphasis on the anomalous pattern of dental wear on the labial surfaces of the mandibular incisors and canine of this individual, which was only briefly discussed elsewhere (Mollison, 1929;Parsche, 1993). ...
... D. Leakey, 1978;Reck, 1914), and few studies concerning this relatively complete skeleton have been published since the 1930s (Boswell, 1932;Crevecoeur et al., 2016;Gieseler and Mollison, 1929;L. S. B. Leakey, 1928;Matu et al., 2017;Mollison, 1929;Parsche, 1993;Protsch, 1974;Twiesselman, 1973;Reck, 1926Reck, , 1933. ...
... Previous analyses indicate that OH1 was a young adult male (~20-35 years old at death) and deliberately buried (Matu et al., 2017). Morphological analyses have been more illustrative of the biological and probable chronological affinity of the OH1 individual relative to other Later Stone Age human remains. ...
Article
Objectives: The dentition of Olduvai Hominid 1 (OH1) exhibits an anomalous pattern of dental wear that was originally attributed to either intentional cultural modification (filing) or plant processing behaviors. A differential diagnosis of the wear and assessment of the biological affinity of OH1 is presented. Materials and methods: Macroscopic and microscopic observations of all labial and buccal tooth surfaces were undertaken to assess wear patterns. A multivariate analysis of mandibular morphology of OH1 compared to other Late Pleistocene, Holocene, and recent modern humans was used to ascertain biological affinity. Results: The morphological variation of the OH1 mandible is closely aligned with variation in penecontemporaneous fossils from Africa and outside that of recent humans. The concave wear facets exposing dentin on the labial surfaces of all three preserved mandibular incisors is confirmed. Substantial loss of labial/buccal surfaces was documented on the surfaces of all in situ maxillary and mandibular canines, premolars, and molars ranging from distinct facets with well-defined edges, to blunting or "polishing" around areas of maximum buccal curvature. The wear on both the anterior and postcanine teeth closely resemble that caused by adornments ("labrets") worn in lower-lip and buccal facial piercings known from bioarchaeological and ethnographic contexts. The wear pattern suggests that the OH1 wore three facial piercings-two buccal/lateral and a medial one in the lower lip. Discussion: Our findings suggest that the expression of social identities through intentional body modification is more diverse than previously documented elsewhere in Africa during the Late Pleistocene (i.e., ablation) and Early Holocene (i.e., ablation, chipping, and filing).
... En particular, tres familias de termitas (Termitidae, Mastotermitidae y Rhinotermitidae) han sido reconocidas por su habilidad de consumir huesos, su impacto en la degradación de restos óseos ha sido demostrada desde hace por lo menos un siglo y sus huellas diagnosticas identificadas más recientemente (Backwell, Parkinson, Roberts, D'Errico y Huchet, 2012;Huchet, 2014aHuchet, , 2014bHuchet et al., 2011;Matu, Crevecoeur y Huchet, 2017). ...
... A partir del trabajo pionero de Derry (1911) que identificó a las termitas como agentes tafonómicos de modificación ósea en tumbas con momias de la antigua Nubia, otros casos arqueológicos involucrando diversas clases de insectos y su acción en restos humanos han sido descritos y publicados desde entonces. Entre ellos, están los análisis de huesos fósiles con marcas de termitas en sitios arqueológicos y paleoantropológicos africanos (Kaiser, 2000;Matu et al., 2017;McBrearty, 1990), el análisis de la fauna cadavérica en una momia egipcia (Huchet, 2010) y en un fardo funerario del México prehispánico (Huchet et al., 2013), la aplicación de la entomología forense para evaluar el intervalo postmortem en el caso de una momia Chachapoyas en Perú (Nystrom et al., 2005), o el primer caso arqueológico en el continente sudamericano de un esqueleto afectado por termitas en el sitio Huaca de la Luna en Perú (Huchet et al., 2011). En varios de estos trabajos, se han aplicado protocolos de reconocimiento de las huellas dejadas por las termitas a partir de modificaciones óseas diagnósticas de acuerdo con una aproximación multidisciplinar que involucra la Icnología, la Tafonomía, la Entomología, la Arqueología y la Bioarqueología. ...
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Las termitas son insectos que aparecen muchas veces en contextos arqueológicos en Brasil y casi nunca son objeto de estudio como procesos naturales de formación de los depósitos y contextos arqueológicos. La probabilidad de que se encuentren marcas de estos insectos modificadores de carcasas de animales y humanos en sitios arqueológicos en Brasil y en Sudamérica hace pertinente su estudio. A partir de una aproximación teórica - metodológica que comprende la Icnoarqueología y la Arqueoentomología Funeraria, presentamos el caso de estudio de un esqueleto humano con señales de bioerosión debidas a la acción de termitas subterráneas en el sitio arqueológico Toca do Enoque (Piauí, nordeste de Brasil) del Holoceno Medio. Guiados por un protocolo de estudio actualístico, pudimos registrar que el patrón de daños observado en los huesos resultó ser consistente con el comportamiento osteofágico de ciertas especies de termitas endémicas de la región Neotropical (Familia: Termitidae). El análisis macroscópico muestra la importancia de reconocer a los isópteros subterráneos como agentes tafonómicos naturales que pueden actuar en la degradación postdeposicional de restos óseos humanos provenientes decontextos funerarios arqueológicos.
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