antelope, deer, bighorn sheep and mountain goats: a guide to the

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  • J. Ethnobiol. 10(2):169-181 Winter 1990

    ANTELOPE, DEER, BIGHORN SHEEP ANDMOUNTAIN GOATS: A GUIDE TO THE CARPALS

    PAMELA J. FORDMount San Antonio College1100 North Grand Avenue

    Walnut, CA 91739

    ABSTRACT.-Remains of antelope, deer, mountain goat, and bighorn sheepappear in archaeological sites in the North American west. Carpal bones of theseanimals are generally recovered in excellent condition but are rarely identifiedbeyond the classification 1/small-sized artiodactyl." This guide, based on theanalysis of over thirty modem specimens, is intended as an aid in the identifi-cation of these remains for archaeological and biogeographical studies.

    RESUMEN.-Se han encontrado restos de antilopes, ciervos, cabras de lasmontanas rocosas, y de carneros cimarrones en sitios arqueol6gicos del oeste deNorte America. Huesos carpianos de estos animales se recuperan, por 10 general,en excelentes condiciones pero raramente son identificados mas alIa de la clasifi-cacion "artiodactilos pequeno." Esta glia, basada en un anaIisis de mas de treintaespeclmenes modemos, tiene el proposito de servir como ayuda en la identifica-cion de estos restos para estudios arqueologicos y biogeogrMicos.

    RESUME.-On peut trouver des ossements d'antilopes, de cerfs, de chevres demontagne et de mouflons des Rocheuses, dans des sites archeologiques de la .region ouest de I'Amerique du Nord. Les os carpeins de ces animaux, generale-ment en excellente condition, sont rarement identifies au dela du classement d', I artiodactyles de petite taille." Le but de ce guide base sur 30 specimens recentsest d'aider aidentifier ces ossements pour des etudes archeologiques et biogeo-graphiques.

    Four genera of relatively small artiodactyls have roamed the Holocene land-scapes of western North America. The remains of antelope (Antilocapra americana),deer (Odocoileus hemionus and O. virginianus), mountain goats (Oreamnos ameri-canus), and bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) appear in various archaeological andpaleontological deposits in the West (e.g., Grayson 1985, 1988; King 1950; Sinclair1904). Throughout western North America, the distributions of these animalsoverlap, at least in part. In areas of the Great Basin, for instance, antelope, deerand bighorn sheep have coincident distributions (Hall 1981). These three generaare typically found together in archaeological sites in the Great Basin (e.g.,Grayson 1988) and in eastern Washington (e.g., Livingston 1985). On the north-west coast, the distributions of deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat overlap(Hall 1981) and all may be represented in one archaeological site (King 1950).

  • 170 FORD Vol. 10, No.2

    Post-cranial remains of these genera are often difficult to distinguish. Inaddition, the condition of archaeological faunal material and incomplete com-parative collections often preclude the generic or specific identification of the bonesin question. Several zoologists and archaeologists have described criteria foridentification of elements of these genera (e.g., Gilbert 1980; Hildebrand 1955;Lawrence 1951; Sandefur 1977), but with one exception (Sandefur 1977), carpalsare not included in available guides.

    Carpals are small dense bones that make up the joint between the lower forelimb and the metacarpals (Fig. 1). In artiodactyls, this joint is tightly boundtogether by soft tissue. Because carpals are dense, they do not deteriorate asrapidly as other elements after the death of the animal (Brain 1981). They occurfrequently in archaeological deposits but are often lumped under the taxonomiccategory "small-sized artiodactyl" during analysis. The identification of theseelements to genus will aid subsistence studies about the variable treatment ofcarcasses. Additionally, biogeographical studies of these genera (e.g., Lyman 1988)may be advanced by the use of this tool.

    LEFT CARPUS

    DORSAL

    VIEWLATERAL

    VIEW Ul nO

    Rodiul

    Metocorpal

    Rodiul

    CARPALS: I.Radial

    4. Second / Thi rd

    2.lntermediale 3.Ulnor

    5.Fourth 6.Acceuory

    FIG. I.-Relationship of various carpals to the radius and metacarpal inartiodactyls.

    This guide is intended for use in conjunction with comparative skeletons forthe identification of carpals recovered from archaeological and paleontologicaldeposits. Few analysts have extensive collections of artiodactyls available andcomparison of one archaeological carpal with one modem specimen of each genusmay not allow the secure identification of the archaeological specimen. Thepurpose of this guide is to illustrate the characteristics that appear on carpals ofvarious genera, but which might not be evident when examining single specimens.I initially utilized 31 skeletons from the collections of the Museum of Comparative

  • Winter 1990 JOURNAL OF ETHNOBIOLOGY 171

    Zoology at Harvard University, the Thomas Burke Memorial Washington StateMuseum, and private collections to determine useful and valid distinguishingcriteria. Carpals from twelve of these were used for the drawings in Figures 2-10.The drawings were compared with an additional set of seven modem specimens.Further analyses by others may bring to light additional distinctive criteria andrequire revisions in this guide.

    ANTI LOCAPRA AMERICANA

    ~for radius

    Dorsa I > :.< Volar \

  • 172 FORD Vol. 10, No. 2

    ANTI LOCAPRA AMERICANA

    / for intermediate carpal

    ~~Io;:~ @@,Proximal A . : ::

    ~ .'for second/third carpal

    ODOCOILEUS HEMIONUS

    r;)~

    ODOCOILEUS VIRGINIANUS

    ~,.

    . ..... -........ ',.;~'::..'

    ~-'_"-"J

    1. At dorsal edge of themedial surface (4), thearticular facets connect orare very close in antelopebut are widely separated indeer and sheep. The facetsmayor may not connect ingoat.

    OREAMNOS AMERICANUS

    ear7' "_>:.: ..OVIS CANADENSIS

    @is). i:. ... ., .....yo : : ~~8tJ.'..--."" .=-~-:':"'~ .: '

    FIG. 3.-Radial carpal, medial view.

  • Winter 1990 JOURNAL OF ETHNOBIOLOGY 173

    ANTILOCAPRA AMERICANA

    ~:~~~II ~ t~_lor second/third carpal (~

    ODOCOILEUS HEMIONUS

    ~.0.:.:

    ODOCOILEUS VIRGINIANUS

    :~~~~.0... eV

    Ald

    AMERICANUS

    1. The basIc outline of thearticular surface for the2nd-3rd carpal varies bytaxon, as 11lustrated. Theshape of the dorsa-lateralborder slopes 1n antelopeand sheep, resembles arounded corner in deer, and15 very rounded in goat. Thevolar edge of the articularsurface 1s horizontal (tnthiS view) for antelope, butparallels the dorsal margin1n sheep.

    OVIS CANADENSIS,,"

    "IC-/!.

    Mez 265

    FIG. 4.-Radial carpal, distal view.

  • 174 FORD

    ANTILOCAPRA AMERICANA

    / for radius

    Proximal A Cd...l ate r a I > ~::.: .. ::. / for f0 ur the a r p a I

    _/

    'for second /thi rd carpal

    ODOCOILEUS HEMJONUS

    U1

    .. I ' ' I

    '.~: :: I"I

    Vol. 10, No.2

    rtlJ':': ".:...:.:.....

    ODOCOILEUS VIRGINIANUS

    OREAMNOS AMERICANUS

    ~:

    .: .: : .. ,J~ ,~

    ~l m2!.SP I ~ .:! I .o' -: .:vi

  • Winter 1990 JOURNAL OF ETHNOBIOLOGY 175

    ANTILOCAPRA AMERICANA

    ~:~s~~r:1 /frJ/ for fourth carpalIj:;}

    for second/third carpa I

    OREAMNOS AMERICANUS

    o

    1. Corset-shaped distalarticular surface isrelat1vely narrow(latero-med1aD in propor-tion to length (dorsa-volar)in the antelope, and wider tndeer, antelope, sheep andgoat.2. The basic outline of thedistal articular surface isdistinct for each genus, asillustrated. ~ANTELOPE:

    Notched 1ateraIty,concave curve medlal1y.

    DEER: 0Straight (orsltghtly curved) laterally,concave curve med1ally.GOAT:

    S1des nearlyparallel, w1thart1cular surface wider atvoIar end than at dorsalend.Stra1ght medially.0SHEEP:

    Curved notchlaterally. Stra1ght orsl1ghtly curved med1ally.

    ifT"()~r.d~

    ~It _ ~.\\

    I~.0. -..VI ::..: .'.

    [!(\ .-:.: .. :.....

    aVIs CANADENSIS

    ODOCOILEUS 'VIRGINIANUS

    ODOCOILEUS HEMIONUS

    FIG. 6.-Intermediate carpal, distal view.

  • 176 FORD

    ANTILOCAPRA AMERICANA

    Vol. 10, No.2

    Dorsal> ~.-for ulnaP . IA .:::: for intermediate

    rox. ma ,: ~ carpal... ."'" .....f:; for fourth carpal

    accessory carpal

    ODOCOILEUS HEMIONUS

    ~, ~)

  • Winter 1990 JOURNAL OF ETHNOBIOLOGY 177

    ANTILOCAPRA AMERICANA

    Dorsal>

    Proximal"~~- lor ul nor carpol ID.... -,.... .. -. ~....'.~::::\ )"':-,'ODOCOILEUS HEMIONUS

    OOOCOI LEUS VIRGINIANUS

    EtD,........... ..:...:.'................OREAMNOS AMERICANUS

    ezl)...f ........ : ....

    ...::.:::..:.

    OVIS CANADENSIS

    1. The baSIC out Itne of thecarpal 1n medIal VIew variesby genus, as Illustrated.2. MId-section (Il") inantelope ts depressed, sothat dorsa1and va1ar endsare curving towards eachother. This curvature isonly very Slight in the othergenera.

    Q0D..:.'...........:.::: '0:':,':. \llirl)~..'.''. '::-:. ::.. ... ",

    FIG. B.-Accessory carpal, medial view.

  • 178 FORD Vol. 10, No.2

    ANTI LOCAPRA AMERICANA

    Dorsal A

    Vola r V

    Medial> ~: .)'-

    / (A 8 ..... for r ad i a I ca r pa I

    fo r in termediate carpal

    1. The volar margin isconcave 1n antelope, fairlystra1ght in deer, hor1zontalin goat, and sloP1ng andnotched 1n sheep.2. All are approx1matelysQuare tn basic outl1ne, but1n goat and sheep, the artic-ulation for rad1al carpal isapproximateIy as wideC1atero-medlally) as it15 deep (dorsa-volar). Inantelope and deer, thearticulation 15 deeper thanit 1s wide.3. The articular surface forthe radial carpal tends to beflatter tn goat and sheep.4. In antelope, part Bof theart icu1ar surface slopes sothat it 1s much htgher thanA. In deer and sheep, A andBare approximately thesame hetght.

    ~~-----,

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