University of Oulu

Royer, A.; Mallye, J.-B.; Pelletier, M.; Griselin, S. Who Killed the Small Mammals of Ittenheim (Northeastern France)? An Integrative Approach and New Taphonomic Data for Investigating Bone Assemblages Accumulated by Small Carnivores. Quaternary 2021, 4, 41.

Who Killed the Small Mammals of Ittenheim (Northeastern France)? : an integrative approach and new taphonomic data for investigating bone assemblages accumulated by small carnivores

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Author: Royer, Aurélien1; Mallye, Jean-Baptiste2; Pelletier, Maxime3;
Organizations: 1Biogéosciences, UMR 6282 CNRS, EPHE, Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, 6 Boulevard Gabriel, 21000 Dijon, France
2PACEA, UMR 5199, CNRS, 33615 Pessac, France;
3Archaeology, History, Culture and Communication Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 8000, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland; Maxime.Pelletier@oulu.f
4INRAP, UMR 7041, Centre Archéologique de Strasbourg, 10 Rue d’Altkirch, 67100 Strasbourg, France;
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 83.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-01-28


Small carnivores are susceptible to regularly accumulating small- to medium-sized mammal remains in both natural and archaeological sites. However, compared to nocturnal birds of prey, these accumulations are still poorly documented and are generally based on a limited number of samples, including those of relatively small size. Here, we present an analysis of European hamster remains from a rescue excavation at Ittenheim (Bas-Rhin, Grand-Est, France), which were recovered from an infilled burrow, three meters below the current surface. The remains are well preserved and exhibit large proportions of tooth marks. Comparisons with a new and existing reference collection combined with an analysis of all recovered faunal remains suggest the accumulation reflects the action of young red foxes. This is supported by the fact that, although these young individuals leave teeth mark, they do not necessarily consume all parts of medium-sized prey species, including the European hamster. Conversely, the remains of smaller rodents, such as microtine, show distinct patterns of digestion and tooth marks. Carnivore bone accumulations from scats are generally poorly preserved; however, our results demonstrate prey size plays a major role, both qualitatively and quantitatively, in skeletal representation, bone preservation, and bone surface modifications. The present paper underlines the need for more diversified taphonomic reference collections based on an integrative approach designed to evaluate multi-taxa accumulations.

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Series: Quaternary
ISSN: 2571-550X
ISSN-E: 2571-550X
ISSN-L: 2571-550X
Volume: 4
Issue: 4
Article number: 41
DOI: 10.3390/quat4040041
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Funding: This study was partially supported by the project HARCGLOB (AAP 2020 Région Bourgogne Franche–Comté).
Dataset Reference: All references including the data used for this study are available at, accessed on 16 July 2021.
Copyright information: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (