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Taphonomic Analysis of Rodentia and Lagomorpha Bone Gnawing Based Upon Incisor Size

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Rodent and lagomorph species have a worldwide distribution and have the potential to alter remains from forensic cases by gnawing soft tissue and bones and through dispersal. The present research compiled metric data on the incisors widths of all rodent and lagomorph species whose ranges include Massachusetts, U.S.A., to compare their sizes to gnawing damage found on 17 cases of human remains from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Boston, MA. Data on gnawing maximum striation widths also were collected from live laboratory, zoo, and wild specimens. Gnawing damage on the forensic cases could be attributed only to a particular size class of rodent or lagomorph, and identification to a particular species based on gnawing damage alone may be possible only in relatively rare cases. Multiple species examined here have broad distribution ranges, so their taphonomic alterations may impact bones from forensic cases throughout large portions of North America.
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Keywords: Lagomorpha; Massachusetts; Rodentia; forensic anthropology; forensic science; gnawing; taphonomy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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