Guide for the identification of archaeological sea sturgeon (Acipenser sturio and A. oxyrinchus) remains
Remains of sturgeons (Acipenser sturio and A. oxyrinchus) are regularly found on western European archaeological sites. The identification of these isolated bones should ideally be carried out with the aid of a comparative skeletal collection, consisting of modern specimens of different sizes. Because such reference material of sea sturgeons (A. sturio and A. oxyrinchus) is relatively rare and dispersed over many different museums and institutes, a practical guide is presented here as an aid to the identification of the most commonly found archaeological sturgeon remains. This guide, which is based on observations made on 64 individuals housed in 13 different natural history collections, should allow identifying most archaeological sturgeon remains from western European sites. Presented are the morphological characteristics of the bones of the skull roof and circumorbital region (posttemporal, dermopterotic, parietal, frontal, dermosphenotic, postorbital, jugal and supraorbital), bones of the braincase (parasphenoid), opercular series (subopercle and branchiostegals), the palatoquadrate and associated bones and lower jaw (palatopterygoid, dermopalatine and dentary), the hyoid and gill arches with the hyomandibula, the isolated skeletal elements from the pectoral girdle (clavicle, cleithrum and supracleithrum), the bones of the fin and fin supports (pectoral fin spine, fin rays and fulcra) and the dorsal, ventral, lateral and accessory scutes. For each element, descriptions and pictures are provided of modern and archaeological speci- mens. Regression equations allowing fish length reconstructions on the basis of single bone measurements are given for 14 elements and the scutes. Finally, criteria for species identification are provided. In the case of the dentary, dermopalatine and palatopterygoid, these are differences in shape of the skeletal elements, whereas for the dermal bones the external surface pattern is diagnostic when reconstructed fish length is over one meter.