Osteometric Data of Avian Fauna of Armenia

Published: 5 December 2023| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/8wfkb2mmns.2


The data article provides a description of the dataset of the linked repository which contains osteometric measurement data of modern bird skeletons deposited in the scientific collections of the Laboratory of Vertebrate Zoology the Institute of Zoology at the Scientific Center of Zoology and Hydroecology of NAS Armenia. The center’s avian skeleton collection includes 165 specimens and is the largest avian osteology collection in Armenia. The information outlined in the database is not part of any published research article and is made available as a standalone data repository for scientists dealing with morphometric comparative studies of birds. The linked Mendeley Data repository dataset contains an Excel file named ‘bird osteometrics’ with cranial and postcranial measurement data of modern bird specimens sampled over the period of 60 years (between 1961 and 2022). The featured measurement data is from 141 studied bird individuals which belong to 81 species, 34 families and 17 orders collected from 141 sampling points across all provinces of Armenia. Of these 141 individuals, 16 are female and 125 are male individuals. The taxonomic list of birds for which the osteometric measurements is provided contain the number of individuals measured and geographic names of sampling locations. Because no geo-positioning technology was available in the early stages of material collection, names of the nearest settlements are used to describe the location of the sampling point. The taxonomy and nomenclature used in Table 3 follow the Bird Life International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World [5, 6] and is based on the taxonomy published in the Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) [1]. Also included in the linked dataset are four image files in .Tiff format named ‘Map1.tiff’, ‘Map2.tiff’, ‘Map3.tiff’ and ‘Map4.tiff’ showing sampling locations of bird specimens at which the material has been obtained. The original images have a resolution of 300 dpi, with a width of 1500 pixels and a height of 1412 pixels.


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Prior to 1990s avian skeletons were obtained by means of specimen collection from the wild for scientific study which was a common practice in the country. Starting from early 1990s the practice of amassing specimen collection for science has been restricted for ethical concerns and the present-day bird skeletons were collected opportunistically, involving the salvage of birds found dead through natural causes, confiscated from illegal hunting with the help of Environmental Inspectorate or collected from wildlife rescue centers. The bird specimens obtained in the course of scientific field expeditions (until 1990) and those collected after that date (using opportunistic methods) have been meticulously treated in the laboratory using both mechanical and chemical preparation methods. First of all, after careful examination and proper data recording the study specimens have been skinned (feathers and skin separated from the carcass) using a scalpel, whereby the tissues and the internal organs (muscles, brain, etc.) have been removed. This was followed by the removal of the excess tissues, ligaments and other pieces of meat and subsequently the cleaning of the skeletal material by simmering it in a pot of warm water to help tissue separation. Final degreasing was done using the 3% hydrogen peroxide solution (H2O2). Subsequently the study skeletons have been washed and dried. Each skeletal material and skull has then been numbered, labelled and catalogued to maximize the scientific value of our osteometric studies. Sexing was done both visually (in case of sexually dichromatic species) and through examination of gonads. Our choice of measurements of the sampled skeletal material relied on the preservation quality and state of the bones. Fractured and fragmented bones were excluded from the measurements. Despite no restrictions are set with regards to which skeletal parts should be measured, we used same measurements from each skeleton to achieve maximum comparability of the osteometric results. Measurements of skeletal material were taken following the universally accepted methodology using a vernier caliper with precision to 0.5 mm. Only absolute measurement data are provided. At least three bones were measured for each individual. The osteometric data of birds facilitate comparative studies of avian bones measurements recovered from archaeological sites and natural deposits. Their scientific merit is amplified by the addition of measurement data because apart from the data on intraspecific variability of the fauna it becomes possible to observe the skeleton changes through historical periods.


Scientific Center of Zoology and Hydroecology Institute of Zoology


Zoology, Paleontology, Ornithology, Environmental Archeology, Zooarchaeology


Armenian National Science and Education Fund