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Telling claw marks from tooth marks on bone



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new paper in PLoS ONE that may be of interest:


Bruce M. Rothschild, Bill Bryant, Christopher Hubbard, Kent Tuxhorn,
Ginny Penn Kilgore, Larry Martin& Virginia Naples (2013)
The Power of the Claw.
PLoS ONE 8(9): e73811.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073811
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0073811



Scratches on bones have routinely been attributed to tooth marks (a
predominantly untested speculation), ignoring the effects of claws,
perhaps because of the general assumption that claws are too soft to
damage bone. However, some pathologies appears to be more compatible
with claw rather than tooth impacts. Therefore, it is critical to
determine if the claws of any animal are capable of scratching into
the surface of any bone – a test and proof of concept. A tiger
enrichment program was used to document actual bone damage
unequivocally caused by claws, by assuring that the tiger had access
to bones only by using its paws (claws). The spectrum of mechanisms
causing bone damage was expanded by evidentiary analysis of
claw-induced pathology. While static studies suggested that
nails/claws could not disrupt bone, specific tiger enrichment
activities documented that bones were susceptible to damage from the
kinetic energy effect of the striking claw. This documents an expanded
differential consideration for scratch marks on bone and evidences the
power of the claw.