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Bryological and Lichenological Section/ABLS

Miller, Norton G. [1].

Fossil Mosses Establish the Habitat of Death of a Mastodon in the Hudson River Valley, New York.

A nearly complete skeleton of a male mastodon (radiocarbon age: 11,480 yr B.P.) was recovered from a small oxbow depression during the construction of a backyard pond in Hyde Park, New York, in 1999-2000.While most of the Holocene peat above the skeleton had been stripped away, sediment immediately above and below the bones (total thickness ca. 2 m) remained intact and was sampled for mosses and other plant macrofossils.The sediment sequence from bottom to top was cobbles; silty clay; clayey silt; marly, clayey silt; peaty marl, and detrital peat.The oxbow received sediment from the Fall Kill (the parent stream) early in its history (ca. 13,000-12,220 yr B.P.).Later (ca. 12,220-11,230 yr B.P.) the oxbow channel was abandoned, and the basin became isolated from the stream.Moss fossils were preserved throughout the section.During the tundra zone (1.95-0.70 m) the moss assemblage consisted of many species of calcareous, open-ground habitats, largely boreal and subarctic in contemporary geographic affinity (e.g., Abietinella abietina, Distichium sp., Ditrichum flexicaule, Hypnum revolutum, H. vaucheri), but including the arctic-alpine Timmia norvegica, but few wetland mosses.However, in the spruce zone (0.7-0.0 m) calcareous fen mosses (e.g., Calliergon giganteum, Meesia triquetra, Scorpidium scorpioides) mostly replaced the open-ground assemblage.This change was associated with the cessation of overbank sediment deposition and the o­nset of basin isolation.The distribution of vascular plant macrofossils in the section (of both wetland and upland species) correlated with the pattern.The mastodon died in the oxbow pond at a time when peaty marl was accumulating and in association with rich fen vegetation.At the same time, spruce-balsam fir-tamarck forest occurred o­n the upland.Water, food, or perhaps minerals in solution in the base-rich pond drew the animal to the fen.


1 - New York State Museum, Biological Survey, Albany, New York, 12230-0001, USA

Keywords:
fossil mosses
paleocology
Pleistocene
rich-fen
mastodon.

Presentation Type: Paper
Session: 51-1
Location: Magpie (Cliff Lodge)
Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2004
Time: 1:00 PM
Abstract ID:35


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