Experimental taphonomy: post-mortem microstructural modifications in Sus scrofa domesticus bone

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Bone is a highly specialised form of hard and rigid connective tissue whose histological structure undergoes post-mortem modifications. In taphonomic research, histological examination of bone thin sections is used to investigate these post-mortem microstructural changes in skeletal tissues. In this study, diagenetic modifications in pig skeletal remains (Sus scrofa domesticus) which were exposed to different taphonomic conditions as part of a long-term, real-time experiment were examined under light microscope (i.e. plain and cross polarized light).

This experiment demonstrated that macroscopic appearance and microscopic preservation of bone may significantly differ. Early microbial attack was identified as enlarged osteocyte lacunae that later coalesce to constitute larger foci. Additionally, microscopic preservation of different skeletal elements varied intra-individually, while within bone differential preservation (i.e. proximal versus distal ends) was also observed. However, no specific patterns of early histological attack (e.g. endosteal and periosteal destruction) and no clear relationship between histological preservation and proximity to the abdominal area were detected. Lastly, the presence and composition of protective textiles had a clear effect on bone preservation. This research project, therefore, provided important evidence for the better understanding of the diagenetic processes that occur within bones whilst buried or exposed on the ground surface.
Original languageEnglish
JournalForensic Science International
Pages (from-to)320-328
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Bone, Diagenesis, Histology, Light microscopy, Experimental, Sus scrofa domesticus

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