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Keywords:

  • Avifauna;
  • Khonkho Wankane;
  • Tiwanaku;
  • Bolivia;
  • Altiplano;
  • Paleoecology;
  • Taphonomy

ABSTRACT

The urban and ceremonial center Khonkho Wankane flourished in the southern Lake Titicaca Altiplano region during the Late Formative prior to the rise of Tiwanaku as a dominant urban center. This site yielded an avifaunal number of identified specimens (NISP) = 631, with a minimum of 26 taxa represented among 539 skeletal elements or fragments. A total of 92 egg shell fragments also were recovered. The avifauna inhabited two major ecological zones: Lake Titicaca, its margins/wetlands and other water margins; and the dry Altiplano grassland (or puna). Lake/wetland taxa include Phoenicopterus chilensis (Chilean flamingo), Nycticorax nycticorax (night heron) and multiple taxa in the Order Anseriformes (ducks, geese, etc.) including Chloephaga melanoptera (Andean goose), Anas georgica (yellow-billed pintail), A. flavirostris (speckled teal) and Oxyura jamaicensis (Andean ruddyduck). Also present are Fulica ardesiaca (Andean coot), Gallinago andina (puna snipe), Himantopus mexicanus (black-necked stilt) and Charadrius alticola (puna plover). Puna taxa include Nothoprocta cf. ornata (ornate tinamou), Nothura cf. darwinii (Darwin's nothura), Metropelia sp. (ground doves), Athene cunicularia (burrowing owl), and multiple Passeriformes (songbirds, etc.). Taxa with a cosmopolitan distribution include Falco cf. femoralis (aplomado falcon) and Tyto alba (barn owl). Taphonomic analysis indicates that the avifauna were used in ceremonial contexts, including multiple Falco cf. femoralis burials, and for dietary and possibly tool-making purposes. Other sources of introduction into the site deposits likely include natural mortality of taxa directly inhabiting the site area.

These findings are compared to the avifauna recovered from the Formative site of Chiripa along the Lake Titicaca margin, which included a much higher proportion of lake bird fauna. At Khonkho Wankane, the importance of wetland avifauna may have been enhanced by the alteration of the local environment to include qochas, or artificial reservoirs/ponds, and continued despite reliance upon multiple domesticated plant and mammal species. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.