Terrestrial and maritime taphonomy: differential effects on spatial distribution of a Late Pleistocene continental drowned faunal bone assemblage from the Pacific coast of Chile

  • Patricio López
  • Isabel Cartajena
  • Diego Carabias
  • Carla Morales
  • David Letelier
  • Valentina Flores
Original Paper


Site GNL Quintero 1 (GNLQ1), located on the central coast of Chile, is the only documented Late Pleistocene drowned terrestrial site along the Pacific Coast of South America. Faunal evidence at the site is varied, and so far, remains of the following taxa have been found: extinct Camelidae, Cervidae, Equidae, Mylodontidae, Xenarthra, but also Myocastoridae, Canidae and Octodontidae. Both geological and paleoenvironmental data indicate that GNLQ1 developed in a floodplain or low-energy environment during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Prior to the post-glacial rising of the sea level, the site would have been located several kilometres inland as the paleoshoreline was farther out on the continental shelf. In accordance with this background, the present study addresses the analysis of the spatial distribution of the bone deposits of GNLQ1 by considering both scenarios, the terrestrial phase related to the formation and modification of the fossil assemblage prior to the transgression, and the marine phase, subsequent to inundation. Results indicate modifications related to low-energy flow environment and carnivore activity dominated during the terrestrial phase and the action of marine organisms during the marine phase. Other taphonomic modifications are not easily attributable to either one or the other environmental context.


Late Pleistocene Extinct fauna Taphonomy Underwater archaeology Central Chile South America 



This study has benefited from the financial support of GNL Quintero S.A. The authors would like to thank the editors and two anonymous reviewers of an earlier draft of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricio López
    • 1
  • Isabel Cartajena
    • 1
  • Diego Carabias
    • 2
  • Carla Morales
    • 2
  • David Letelier
    • 3
  • Valentina Flores
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Antropología, Universidad de Chile and ARQMAR-Centre for Maritime Archaeology Research of the Southeastern PacificSantiagoChile
  2. 2.ÀRKA-Maritime Archaeology and ARQMAR-Centre for Maritime Archaeology Research of the Southeastern PacificValparaísoChile
  3. 3.ÀRKA-Maritime ArchaeologyValparaísoChile
  4. 4.Departamento de Geología, Escuela de Ingeniería Civil, Universidad Santo Tomás; Departamento de Geología, Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas, Universidad de Chile and ARQMAR-Centre for Maritime Archaeology Research of the Southeastern PacificSantiagoChile

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