Natural behavior of the deer can leave various modifications on the antlers. Deer often rub their antlers against tree bark and bushes and use them intensively during male-male competition. All of these behaviors can leave marks on the antlers. Distinguishing these naturally-made marks from human-made marks is crucial in accurately identifying antler tools from archaeological sites. This study examined 347 white-tailed deer antlers to document the types and frequencies of the natural modifications. Scratches, polish, deformation, and fractures on the tip are the most frequently found modifications. Unless the modifications on the antlers from archaeological sites can be distinguished from these natural modifications, the nature of the purported antler tools remains questionable.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth-Surface Processes