Comment on “assessing the extent of bone bioerosion in short timescales – A novel approach for quantifying microstructural loss [Quat. Int., in press https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2023.01.011]”
We outline issues with a recent publication by Mein and Williams (2023), which is primarily based on the morphology and quantification of osteocyte lacunae, microscopic cavities that house cells (osteocytes) which sustain bone tissue in living vertebrates. Using 26 rats (Rattus rattus) of unreported age and sex, the authors propose a method whereby post-mortem bone degradation on a short timescale can be quantified by analysing subtle shape changes of osteocyte lacunae. However, a lack of consideration is given to the natural variation and other biological factors influencing osteocyte lacunar morphology; the proposed diagenetic composition of lacunae is not determined; and the methods employed, including the animal model used, are unfit for the purpose of the study. Given these issues, we believe the conclusions presented by the authors should be treated cautiously and not extended to forensic investigations of post-mortem interval, particularly in humans.
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