Potrava sovy pálené (Tyto alba) ze starověkého Abúsíru: nálezy z Kakaibaefovy hrobky (AC 29)
The Common Barn-owl (Tyto alba) diet from ancient Abusir: finds from the tomb of Kakaibaef (AC 29)
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The assemblages of vertebrate microfauna gained from the owl's pellets can tell us not only about the composition of the owl's diet, but also about the composition of the surrounding environment. Our remains came from the Old Kingdom mastaba (AC 29) located in the Abusir necropolis (Egypt); they were unearthed during the spring season of 2013 from the bottom of a burial shaft and an adjacent burial chamber. The tomb was robbed and partially destroyed during the First Millennium B.C. - it seems that niches in the shaft and the burial chamber were used as a nesting place by owls in this period until the shaft was filled by desert sand again. Fortunately, several owls' pellets were uncovered in a good state of preservation and can be determined as belonging to the Common Barn-owl (Tyto alba). The dominant part of the assemblage ( ca 2/3 of individuals) was formed by small and medium-sized rodents (mainly the House Rat and House Mouse, occasionally also gerbils and the Three-toed Jerboa). A substantial part of the assemblage was also made by the white-toothed shrews (18.32 %) and frogs (10.79 %). A small amount of small birds (singing birds and quails) and sporadic finds of beetles, bats or snake were also recorded. The species composition reflects an environment strongly influenced by human occupation, with an admixture of species of semi-deserts/deserts, species of grassland/fields and species of river banks/shallow waters. Compared to a recent assemblage of the barn-owl pellets, the species composition of the older diet is more diverse, with the occurrence of poorly known species, and reflecting changes in the surrounding environment.
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