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Instances of avian osteoarthritis from the Unalaska Sea Ice Project, Unalaska Island, Alaska
International Journal of Paleopathology (2021)
  • Michael A. Etnier, Western Washington University
Objective: This project is designed to examine the prevalence of skeletal pathology in two archaeological avian
bone assemblages.
Materials: Archaeological avian bone assemblages with Number of Identified Specimens of 14,909 (UNL-055) and
36,866 (UNL-048).
Methods: Visual examination of humeri, coracoids, tarsometatarsi, and cranial elements for pathology during
taxonomic identification.
Results: 83 instances of skeletal pathology were observed in these assemblages and were most prevalent in the
UNL-048 assemblage. Marginal osteophytes around the articular surfaces of the coracoid were the primary bone
pathology in the UNL-048 avian assemblage.
Conclusions: The prevalence of osteoarthritis in surface diving birds at the UNL-048 site could be due to changing
Significance: Considering the environmental factors that contribute to instances of animal pathology allows for a
more contextual interpretation of the cultural processes that occurred at archaeological sites.
Limitations: Time and budgetary constraints did not allow for examination of the entire avian assemblage.
Suggestions for future research: Further intensive review of archaeological avian assemblages alongside consideration of environmental and cultural processes occurring during the site occupation is advised.
  • osteology,
  • pathology,
  • paleopathology,
  • zooarchaeology
Publication Date
Citation Information
Michael A. Etnier. "Instances of avian osteoarthritis from the Unalaska Sea Ice Project, Unalaska Island, Alaska" International Journal of Paleopathology Vol. 35 (2021) p. 1 - 7 ISSN: 1879-9817
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