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Keywords:

  • breakage;
  • digestion;
  • European rabbit;
  • leporid remains;
  • red fox;
  • small prey;
  • taphonomy;
  • terrestrial carnivores

ABSTRACT

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a generalist predator, but in areas where the abundance of rabbits is high, they constitute one of the most common prey species. Taphonomic studies on leporid remains consumed by this terrestrial carnivore are scarce, and its role as an agent responsible for bone accumulations in the fossil record is not fully understood. With the aim of contributing new data to this subject, an experimental study was carried out with four red foxes kept in captivity. They were fed with complete rabbit carcasses. Scats and non-ingested remains were recovered in order to analyse anatomical representation, breakage and digestion patterns. Results were compared with another sample derived exclusively from wild red foxes' scats. Variability occurs among the three samples, suggesting that the identification of the taphonomic signature of this predator on archaeological assemblages of leporid remains is not a straightforward matter. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.