Nest site taphonomy of modern archosaurs
Ferguson, Ashley Lynn
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The goal of this thesis is to investigate the taphonomic processes that affect crocodylian and modern bird nesting localities in the hope that they would shed light into the identification of fossil nesting grounds and the interpretation of juvenile developmental stage. This project in particular observed nests of American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) at the Turkey Point Power Plant in Homestead, Florida, broad snouted caiman (Caiman latirostris) nests in the Northern Santa Fe and Chaco Provinces of Argentina, and colonial ground nesting birds (American white pelicans, double-crested cormorants, ring-billed and California gulls) at Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge (BNWR) east of Malta, Montana. A major component of this project is the documentation of potentially preservable components, i.e., specimens (bones, eggshell, etc.) and structures (e.g. nesting traces) that might be represented in the fossil record. This thesis documents the agents and processes influencing bone and egg accumulations and nesting trace preservation across diverse biologies and environments.