Historic and prehistoric animal pathologies from North America

Brian S. SHAFFER & Barry W. BAKER

en Anthropozoologica 25-26 - Pages 255-261

Published on 01 June 1998

This article is a part of the thematic issue Proceedings of the 7th ICAZ International Meeting, Constance, September 1994

Although animal pathologies are recognized as a potential source of information to North American archaeologists, this subject has gone virtually unused. In this paper, we address why this information has not been used, and present a comparison with archaeological data gathered over the past six years. A survey of over 400,000 specimens from the United States was made seeking evidence for paleopathologies. Seventy-five pathological specimens were found among a subsample of 260,475 specimens. Pathologies were rare in this subsample (<0.03%). Of the disorders observed, frequencies and types of ailments differed between animal types. However, results indicated that the recovery of pathological specimens is tied closely to taphonomy and even then, correlation of disorders with human activity was uncommon.


Vertebrate paleopathology, taphonomy, North America.

Download full article in PDF format Order a reprint