The Taphonomic Effects of Feral Hogs (Sus Scrofa) and Vultures on Carrion



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From May through October of 2012, four pig carcasses (Sus scrofa) were used in an experimental study. Two of the carcasses were used as controls, one was placed in a shallow burial and the fourth was left out in the open for complete access by avian and terrestrial scavengers. Modifications to the pig carcasses were documented through daily observations and two motion-sensing digital cameras. Feral hogs were not observed during this study but vultures and canids were. Two species of vultures, the Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) and the American black vulture (Coragyps atratus) were observed scavenging on the remains three and a half hours after placement. The open access subject was completely skeletonized after approximately twenty six hours of vulture scavenging. The scavenging activity of vultures resulted in shallow penetrating scratches left on the bone as an indicator of their presence along with their scat and feathers being present at the scene. The accelerated rate of decomposition that occurs during vulture scavenging is important to consider. The canid (Canis familiaris) was observed during the later stages of decomposition and is attributed with the pitting, scoring and crenulated edges on the skeletal remains. Both of these scavengers are important taphonomic factors and must be considered when determining an accurate postmortem interval at vulture and canid modified scenes.



Forensic sciences, Forensic anthropology, Anthropology, Taphonomy, Scavenging, Feral hogs, Vultures, Canids