Title

The Habitat of Pleistocene Mammoths as Examined Through Strontium Isotopes

Presenter

David Burtt

Abstract

Mammoths migrated from Asia to North America in the Pleistocene, ca. 1.7 Ma. These mammoths spread from the Arctic to Florida; however, there remains a mystery related to the migration patterns and habitats of these mammoths. Within Washington State, two species of mammoth, Mammuthus columbi and Mammuthus imperator, competed with mountainous terrain and expansive ice sheets extending as far south as Seattle. This study investigates the migration patterns by analyzing isotope ratios of C, O and Sr preserved within the enamel of eight molars taken from three separate mammoths. A comparison between the Sr ratio of one molar and the literature values for the local bedrock suggests that one of the mammoths originated outside Washington, potentially in Wyoming or Canada. These Sr ratios successfully differentiate the Pacific Northwest mammoths from other mammoths found in Florida and Georgia and more significantly, from the unglaciated bedrock of Washington State.

Faculty Sponsor

Kirsten Nicolaysen

Sponsor Department/Programs

Geology

Tracks

Poster Session

Location

Cordiner Hall

Presentation Type

Poster

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Apr 19th, 1:00 PM Apr 19th, 2:00 PM

The Habitat of Pleistocene Mammoths as Examined Through Strontium Isotopes

Cordiner Hall

Mammoths migrated from Asia to North America in the Pleistocene, ca. 1.7 Ma. These mammoths spread from the Arctic to Florida; however, there remains a mystery related to the migration patterns and habitats of these mammoths. Within Washington State, two species of mammoth, Mammuthus columbi and Mammuthus imperator, competed with mountainous terrain and expansive ice sheets extending as far south as Seattle. This study investigates the migration patterns by analyzing isotope ratios of C, O and Sr preserved within the enamel of eight molars taken from three separate mammoths. A comparison between the Sr ratio of one molar and the literature values for the local bedrock suggests that one of the mammoths originated outside Washington, potentially in Wyoming or Canada. These Sr ratios successfully differentiate the Pacific Northwest mammoths from other mammoths found in Florida and Georgia and more significantly, from the unglaciated bedrock of Washington State.