Using ZooMS to identify fragmentary bone from the Late Middle/Early Upper Palaeolithic sequence of Les Cottés, France

Frido Welker, Marie Soressi, William Rendu, Jean-Jacques Hublin, Matthew Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report the application of a molecular barcode method (ZooMS) to identify fragmentary bone remains (>2.5 cm) from a Middle to Upper Palaeolithic sequence at Les Cottés, France. ZooMS uses peptide mass fingerprinting of collagen (the most abundant protein in bone) to discriminate fauna (typically to genus level). Using previously reported peptide markers we initially conducted a blind test using 34 morphologically identified bones, followed by the application of ZooMS on 145 morphologically unidentified bone specimens. For the blind test, ZooMS was in agreement with morphological identifications in all cases, but in some instances taxonomic resolution is lower than morphological identifications. Further, 93.8% (136/145) of spectra obtained for morphologically unidentified bone specimens result in identifications that cannot be taxonomically improved by ZooMS. These include ten bone specimens showing signs of carnivore digestion. Focussing on the unidentified bone specimens of the Châtelperronian unit at Les Cottés (US06), ZooMS identified an additional ≈30% of the total number of bones discovered, increasing the total number of identified bone specimens to 61.8%. Further, ZooMS revealed higher taxonomic richness compared to morphological identifications for US06, thereby providing a more informed interpretation of the faunal community present at Les Cottés during the Châtelperronian.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-286
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of archaeological science
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

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