by Bernard K. Means, Project Director
Today’s object is a passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) tibiotarsus. Passenger pigeons became extinct one century ago, despite the fact that they were once so ubiquitous they darkened the sky. Bones from these animals are likely common in pre-Contact American Indian and post-Contact assemblages of native peoples and colonizers in the Americas, but are not always recognized because they are not part of many contemporary type collections. This issue was brought to the attention of the Virtual Curation Laboratory by the Virginia Museum of Natural History‘s (VMNH) Curator of Archaeology Dr. Elizabeth Moore. We partnered with VMNH to create 3D digital models of passenger pigeon bones in their collection. This scanning project is being overseen by Virginia Commonwealth University student Mariana Zechini, who is acting as the Virtual Curation Laboratory’s digital zooarchaeologist. The bones were recovered archaeologically from an American Indian village, the Graham-White site, located in southwestern Virginia.