Wildcat scats: Taphonomy of the predator and its micromamal prey

M. D. Marin-Monfort, S. García-Morato, R. Olucha, J. Yravedra, A. Piñeiro, I. Barja, P. Andrews, Y. Fernández-Jalvo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Small sized felids, such as wild and domestic cats, are one of the most common predators in the nature and in sites occupied by humans in archaeological and historical contexts. Wildcats have ingestion/digestion traits highly destructive for their prey, i.e.: teeth to chew causing extreme breakage, and digestion along the entire digestive tract with low pH gastric juices causing extreme bone corrosion. Small sized cats are also well known to play with the prey and select skeletal parts to ingest. The present study is focused on the taphonomic analysis of micromammal remains recovered from scats produced by European wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris) during several months and years. Excrements were collected from the Montes do Invernadeiro Natural Park (Galicia, Spain). Following the taphonomic methodological protocols, anatomical representation, bone breakage and degrees of digestive corrosion were evaluated. Results obtained from the skeletal representation indicate a high abundance of cranial skeleton and a high fracture pattern. Most dental elements show digestion, reaching extreme grades of corrosion, but the proportions of micromammal prey elements affected varies between taxonomic groups. The large sample size collected during 2 years, including different seasons, show no differences in either taxonomic composition or degree of digestion between the four seasons. The scat contents provide a basic and general pattern of alterations caused by carnivorous mammals on the bony elements of their prey. Some differences between felid predator species have also been observed, thus pointing out the necessity of more actualistic taphonomic analysis that will allow us to obtain a more accurate indication of modifications produced by small carnivorous mammals and specific differences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106024
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Carnivores
  • Felids
  • Felis silvestris silvestris, wildcat
  • Micromammals
  • Montes do Invernadeiro Natural Park (Galicia, Spain)
  • Taphonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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