Paper No. 19
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


SMITH, Hannah N., Geology, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA 16057,

The purpose of the experiment was to find the age of modern bovine bones by their weathering in the Wyoming climate. To determine the age of the bones, the weathering on their surface was studied using the age guide by A.K. Behrensmeyer (1978) which was based on her research in the weathering of bovine bones in East Africa. Each of the skeletons in this study were examined for stage of decomposition. The absolute age of the remains were determined by retrieving the animals' identification tag and contacting local cattle ranchers. The bones in Wyoming were found to decompose more rapidly than bones studied by Behrensmeyer in the 1978 African study. The weathering on two of the skeletons was indicative of one to three year old skeletons according to Behrensmeyer's study which correlated with the ages given by the cattle ranchers. However, the weathering pattern on a three year old skeleton in the same environmental conditions were indicative of a five to ten year old skeleton according to her study. The bones were exposed to UV rays, scavenging, freeze-thaw, and wet/dry conditions that sped up the aging process. The harsh environmental conditions in Wyoming were increased by recent drought conditions that could increase the weathering process. Modern bones can be aged using weathering techniques and knowledge of climatic conditions on organic remains. The globally limited knowledge on the subject can make this process challenging and more research needs to be done on various skeletons in a range of environments to establish guidelines for bone weathering in different climates. By expanding research on the weathering processes of modern bovine bones, more insight can be gained into this process of taphonomy and the mechanisms that enact on an organisms' remains when exposed at the surface.