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The Snowmastodon Project: A view of the Last Interglacial Period from high in the Colorado Rockies

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Abstract

In North America, terrestrial records of biodiversity and climate change that span the Last Interglacial Period [or Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 5] are rare. In 2010-11, construction at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado revealed a lacustrine/wetland sedimentary sequence that preserved evidence of past plant communities between ~140 and 55 ka, including all of MIS 5. At an elevation of 2705 m, the Ziegler Reservoir fossil site (ZRFS) also contained thousands of well-preserved bones and teeth of Pleistocene megafauna, including mastodons, mammoths, ground sloths, horses, camels, deer, bison, black bear, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. In addition, the site contained more than 26,000 bones from at least 30 species of small animals, including salamanders, otters, muskrats, minks, rabbits, beavers, frogs, lizards, snakes, fish, and birds. The combination of macro- and micro-vertebrates, invertebrates, terrestrial and aquatic plant macrofossils, a detailed pollen record, and a robust, directly dated stratigraphic framework, shows that high-elevation ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado are climatically sensitive and varied dramatically throughout MIS 5.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title The Snowmastodon Project: A view of the Last Interglacial Period from high in the Colorado Rockies
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher California State University
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description 9 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Mojave Miocene: 15 Million Years of History—2015 Desert Symposium Field Guide and Proceedings
First page 310
Last page 318