Identifcation of ontogenetic age classes plays an important role in the felds of zoology, palaeontology and archaeology, where accurate age classifcations of (sub)fossil remains are a crucial component for the reconstruction of past life. Textural ageing—the identifcation of age-related bone surface textures—provides a size-independent method for age assessment of vertebrate material. However, most of the work so far is limited to qualitative results. While qualitative approaches provide helpful insights on textural ageing patterns, they are heavily subject to observer bias and fall short of quantitative data relevant for detailed statistical analyses and cross-comparisons. Here, we present a pilot study on the application of 3D surface digital microscopy to quantify bone surface textures on the long bones of the grey heron (Ardea cinerea) and the Canada goose (Branta canadensis) using internationally verifed roughness parameters. Using a standardised measuring protocol, computed roughness values show a strong correlation with qualitative descriptions of textural patterns. Overall, higher roughness values correspond to increased numbers of grooves and pits and vice versa. Most of the roughness parameters allowed distinguishing between diferent ontogenetic classes and closely followed the typical sigmoidal animal growth curve. Our results show that bone texture quantifcation is a feasible approach to identifying ontogenetic age classes.

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Journal of Analytical Science and Technology

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Staff publications

de Rooij, J., Vintges, M., Zuidwijk, Thim, Heerkens, Carel T. H., & Schulp, A. (2023). Quantification of bone surface textures: exploring a new method of ontogenetic ageing. Journal of Analytical Science and Technology, 14(1). doi:10.1186/s40543-023-00413-1