In describing bison bones we use a standard three part set of codes that were originally developed from codes presented by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (1973) and organized as described by Gifford and Crader (1977). The specific codes used here were first applied to a Plains bison bonebed as part of the Horner site analysis (Frison and Todd 1987) and have undergone a series of modifications and revisions over the years (e.g., Anderson, Todd, Burgett, and Rapson 1994; Burgett 1990; Rapson 1990).
The first level of description in the three-part hierarchy of codes refers to the type of bone or skeletal element (EL) being described. A complete list of skeletal element codes is given in the Skeletal Element Codes page and the locations of the major bones are shown at the bottom of this page. Illustrations of some of the individual bones with some of the major landmarks labled are given in Bison Osteology pages.
The second level of coding refers to what portions (POR) of a bone are represented. Bones can range from complete to highly fragmented, and the POR code allows you to describe what part of the bone is present. A listing of portion codes is given on the next page. Illustrations of some of most common portion codes used for major element groups are shown in the Portion Code Illustrations page.
The final set of codes are used to tell what segment of a specified portion of a bone is present. For example, is it a complete distal end or only the medial segment of the distal end? A listing of segment codes as well as other codes used to describe other attributes of the bones being excavated and documented at a series of Plains bison sites is given below.
Skeletal Element Codes (EL)
Describes which bone of the body is being coded.
Element Portion Codes (POR)
Describes the part of the bone present.
Segment Codes (SEG)
Descibes more specifically what part of the bone portion is represented.
The anatomical postion of the bone in the skeleton.
Proximal or cranial epiphyseal union (PFUS)
The degree of epiphyseal union of the proximal end of long bones or the cranial end of vertebrae (the same numeric codes are used for both PFUS and DFUS).
Distal or caudal epiphyseal union (DFUS)
The degree of epiphyseal union of the distal end of long bones or the caudal end of vertebrae (the same numeric codes are used for both PFUS and DFUS).
The Bison Skeleton
click on the names or codes of the bones to view photographs of that bone
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