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Pathological and sub-pathological changes in European rabbit bones: two reference cases to be applied to the analysis of archaeological assemblages

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-07-12, 09:40 authored by Luis Lloveras, Richard Thomas, Marta Moreno-García, Jordi Nadal, Xavier Tomàs-Gimeno, Carme Rissech, Lauren Bellis
Objective
To provide prevalence data for future comparative analysis of the health status of rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) accumulated in the archaeological record.

Materials
Two contrasting assemblages were analysed for pathological and sub-pathological changes: 1) an assemblage of domestic modern rabbit bones; and 2) a non-anthropogenic accumulation of archaeological rabbit remains.

Methods
The lesions observed macroscopically, under magnification, and radiographically in both assemblages are quantified and described.

Results
In the first assemblage, pathological and sub-pathological changes mostly affected the lower limb bones and primarily took two forms: diaphyseal periosteal proliferation and hypervascularised distal physes. Differential diagnosis of the periosteal proliferation suggests that pododermatitis is the most probable cause. In the second assemblage fractures were the most common lesions, but isolated examples of hypervascularised physes, periosteal proliferation, and musculo-skeletal stress markers were also identified. The pathological changes recorded is typical of a naturally-accumulated population of wild rabbits.

Conclusions
The prevalence of pathological and sub-pathological skeletal changes in the rabbits, and thus their health status, are closely related to living conditions. This study demonstrates the value of systematically recording pathologies in rabbit bones.

Significance
We contribute new data to help understand rabbit interactions with humans in the past and also the environment they inhabited.

Limitations
Working with modern samples frequently means only incomplete skeletons are available for study. In these cases lesion prevalence always needs to be interpreted with caution.

Suggestions for further research
Paleopathological studies of rabbit remains are remarkable for their absence. Further exhaustive research in this area is advised.

History

Citation

International Journal of Paleopathology Volume 34, September 2021, Pages 90-100

Author affiliation

School of Archaeology and Ancient History

Version

  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

International Journal of Paleopathology

Volume

34

Pagination

90 - 100

Publisher

Elsevier

issn

1879-9817

Acceptance date

2021-06-17

Copyright date

2021

Available date

2022-07-01

Language

en

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