Wrangells Mammoths

Thorson, Robert M., E. James Dixon, Jr, George S. Smith, and Alan R. Batten. “Interstadial Proboscidean from South-central Alaska: Implications for Biogeography, Geology, and Archeology.” Quaternary Research 16, no. 3 (November 1981): 404–417. doi:10.1016/0033-5894(81)90019-3.

In 1980 a large proboscidean femur, probably Mammuthus sp., was found in situ in a bluff exposure at the mouth of the Tyone River in the northwestern part of the Copper River Basin, Alaska. The regional setting, stratigraphy, radiocarbon chronology, flora, and implications of the fossil locality, which represents the first documented occurrence of Pleistocene terrestrial mammalian fauna in southern Alaska, are described. Radiocarbon dates and stratigraphic relations at the site indicate that the sediments containing the fossil accumulated during the transition from interstadial to glacial conditions during terminal middle Wisconsin time. During this interval the immediate vicinity was unforested and large areas of south-central Alaska may have been available for faunal and possibly human habitation. This documented find, dated at 29,450 ± 610 14C yr B.P., extends the known range for Pleistocene mammals and possibly steppe-tundra conditions south-ward at least 150 km, and suggests that mountain passes through the Alaska Range to the north were ice free during the last part of the middle Wisconsin interstadial.

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An ongoing inquiry into change, stability and connecton, by Ben Shaine

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