The taphonomy of mammoth localities in southeastern Wisconsin (USA)

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Abstract

Four southeastern Wisconsin mammoth localities located within a glacial landscape had well-preserved remains found in inter-morainal depressions filled with lacustrine clays covered with peat. Numerous radiocarbon ages dated the mammoths to the late Pleistocene. The taphonomic analysis focused on determining the agency or agencies involved in site formation and the agency or agencies involved in modification to the bones. Statistical approaches to bone orientation data underscored that water transport was not a factor in the formation of the bone beds nor was water movement a disturbance factor. The bone modification profile of the overall assemblage was dominated by chemical weathering, followed by other chemical and microbiological processes. Root etching was the most common biological modification, and the most frequent modifications are involved with the microenvironments of the surface to burial substrate. Potentially cultural modification accounted for only a small portion of the cortical damage to the bones. This general profile indicated an assemblage far more influenced by the immediate environment than by passing animals or people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-78
Number of pages21
JournalQuaternary International
Volume142-143
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2006

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