USING GIS TO ANALYZE SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION AND TAPHONOMIC PROCESSES OF THE EXTINCT TAPIR TAPIRUS POLKENSIS AT THE GRAY FOSSIL SITE, GRAY, TENNESSEE
The fossil preservation at the site is excellent and affords an opportunity to carry out taphonomic studies. At the Gray Fossil Site taphonomic processes include differing states of articulation, various stages of weathering, utilization by carnivores, abrasion, and compaction effects. In order to better understand these taphonomic processes precise location and orientation data have been collected for a larger number of tapir bones catalogued in the collections at this site. A minimum of 80 tapir individuals have been recovered and thus provide a good population for the study of taphonomic processes.
Using GIS systems and techniques, the spatial distribution of the tapirs bone elements and their taphonomy at the Gray Fossil Site have been mapped. Analysis of tapir taphonomy for patterns using a statistical method known as the nearest neighbor statistic has been furthered developed to quantify the spatial pattern of these taphonomic processes. The results indicate that there is a random distribution of tapir elements and individuals and that no clustering or dispersion patterns from taphonomic processes exist at the Gray Fossil Site.