Binford Methodology for Taphonomic Classification of Animal Tooth Marks on Bone Surfaces. A Systematic Search Review

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Fabiana Scarso-Giaconi; Sandra López-Lázaro; Inmaculada Alemán-Aguilera & Gabriel M. Fonseca


Taphonomy, a concept recognized in paleontology and anthropology, allows the estimation of time and circumstances of death by studying post-mortem conditions and factors related to the survival of bone remains. Among the different taphonomic variables, Binford (1981) proposed a categorization of bite marks, now recognized as standard for these studies. However, its original design in English could lead to misinterpretations or erroneous reports for not having a validated translation. A scoping review was conducted for articles in Spanish, without a time limit, that cited Binford (“Bones: Ancient Men and Modern Myths”) in Google Scholar. Those who mentioned this methodology to categorize bite marks as taphonomic agent were included. Theses, books, posters and conference proceedings were excluded. We identified 349 documents, and 83 were selected according to criteria. 65.12 % referred only to animal bite marks without specifying categories; 26.51 % showed free translations or partial categorizations, and 8.43 % made categorizations without translation. The largest number of citations were made by authors from Argentina and Spain (54.22 % and 24.10 % respectively, as the only affiliation). The categories with the most free translations were “pitting” and “puncture” (11 and 8 different terms respectively). While Binford's categorization is widely cited in Spanish-speaking countries to define animal bite marks in bone, the absence of transculturation implies a lack of consensus for the scientific community. Beyond a literal translation, the adaptation and standardization of these terms is necessary to validate this methodology.

KEY WORDS: Taphonomy; Bite marks; Bone; Terminology; Transculturation.

How to cite this article

SCARSO-GIACONI, F.; LÓPEZ-LÁZARO, S.; ALEMÁN- AGUILERA, I. & FONSECA, G. M. Binford methodology for taphonomic classification of animal tooth marks on bone surfaces. A systematic search review. Int. J. Morphol., 38(4):838-844, 2020.