Taphonomic signature of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) on bone prey remains

Lluís Lloveras, Alessandra Cosso, Jaume Solé, Bernat Claramunt-López, Jordi Nadal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one of the most important birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. This raptor is used to building large nests in high cliffs to which they return for several breeding years accumulating important amounts of their prey skeletal remains. This makes the golden eagle one of the major predators able to accumulate faunal remains in archaeological sites. Despite this fact, the taphonomic signature of golden eagles has not been properly characterized. Here we present the analysis of ingested and non-ingested faunal remains predated and accumulated by this raptor in two different nesting areas from the Iberian Peninsula. Results show how the faunal taxonomic record may vary depending on the ecological zone. Leporids and terrestrial carnivores are the best represented. The observed anatomical representation, breakage and bone surface modification patterns are discussed for different taxa. The taphonomic pattern varies depending on the type of prey and the origin of skeletal materials (non-ingested vs. pellets). Finally, after comparing our results with marks left by other predators, several characteristic features are noted to recognise golden eagles as agents of animal bones accumulations in the fossil record.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-854
JournalHistorical Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2017


  • Aquila chrysaetos
  • Taphonomy
  • anatomical representation
  • beak marks
  • bone accumulator agents
  • breakage
  • digested bones
  • small prey


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