Existing osteological literature often lacks descriptions and illustrations of the smaller elements, such as hand and foot bones, of animals commonly found in the archaeological record. Black bear (Ursus americanus) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are both cosmopolitan species and important resources for indigenous peoples, resulting in their widespread presence in faunal assemblages. Additionally, the carpal and tarsal elements of these two mammalian taxa can be difficult to distinguish from human elements because of their similarities in size and shape. Proper identification of faunal and human remains is paramount to responsible cultural resource management (CRM). This thesis presents a textual and photographic osteological guide of black bear and mule deer carpals and tarsals and provides the means for distinguishing these elements from their human counterparts.
Tamela S. Smart, M.A. Thesis, Western Washington University