Taphonomic changes in response to cold temperature exposure are not well characterized. Specific changes, both macroscopic (recovered animal skeletal material) and microscopic (lamb bone segments experimentally exposed to five different cold treatments), were assessed using thin sectioning and light microscopy. Macroscopic taphonomic changes could not be exclusively attributed to cold climate exposure. In contrast, two types of microstructural cracking damage, longitudinal and osteon cracks, were caused by exposure to cold. The type of cold exposure, such as freeze-drying versus just cold, could in certain instances, be distinguished based on the type and prevalence of the cracks. These findings demonstrate that microstructural cracking can be used as a taphonomic indicator of cold exposure. They also suggest that the type and prevalence of this damage could be used to distinguish between different types of cold exposure.
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Thesis advisor: Bell, Lynne
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