Bryological and Lichenological Section/ABLS
Miller, Norton G. .
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
Presentation Type: Paper
Location: Magpie (Cliff Lodge)
Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2004
Time: 1:00 PM