LATE PLEISTOCENE MAMMALS OF NEW SIBERIA ISLAND (RUSSIAN ARCTIC)
NIKOLSKIY, PAVEL A.. Geological Institute RAS, Moscow, Russia.
In summer of 2000 and 2001 in the framework of the Russian-American archeological Project "Zhokhov-2000" a representative collection of the late Pleistocene mammal remains (more than 1300 bones) was collected on New Siberia Island (East-Siberian Sea, 75N). This is the northernmost Pleistocene fauna known in Beringia. The taphonomy of the material indicates natural or close to natural composition of the fauna. The following species were identified:
Equus caballus (horse);
Bison priscus (steppe bison);
Mammuthus primigenius (wooly mammoth);
Rangifer tarandus (caribou);
Ovibos moschatus (muskox);
Coelodonta antiquitatis (wooly rhinoceros);
Lepus tanaiticus (late Pleistocene hare);
Saiga tatarica (saiga);
Canis lupus (wolf);
Alopex lagopus (arctic fox);
Lemmus obensis (Siberian lemming);
Dicrostonix sp. (collared lemming),
Gulo gulo (wolverine);
Ursus sp. (bear, probably polar bear).
Remains of bison and horse markedly dominate in the collection. The bones of wooly mammoth, caribou, and arctic hare are numerous. Muskox is common. Findings of the other species are rare.
This new northernmost fauna was compared with the material from the Oyogos Yar (north of Yana-Indigirka lowland) we collected in 1996-2000, and more southern faunas of central and southern Yakutia. The comparison shows that during late Pleistocene the extremely northern fauna of New Siberia Island was very much similar to other faunas of western Beringia in abundance, composition, and diversity.
Of special interest is Ó new set of radiocarbon dates (more than 60) obtained in Geological Institute (Moscow) by Dr. L.D. Sulerzhitsky. Most dates are based on mammoth bones. An analysis shows:
1. Mammoth fauna was permanently presented in NS Island (which was a part of land together with now flooded shelf) throughout the late Pleistocene covered by radiocarbon range. Whether this inhabitance had a permanent or seasonal character is so far unclear. Some species did not migrate.
2. The dates show clear modality away from full glacial period (22000 - 17000 BP). The peak of the numbers falls on the interval 45000-24000 BP and (to the least extent) on the interval 17000-10000 BP. Dated bones are less represented during the interval 22000-17000 BP. Thus, there is an obvious dependence of the numbers of animals inhabiting the area and the global temperature.
This regularity decreases from north to south. Whereas in the data from central Yakutiya (Sulerzhitsky and Romanenko, 1997), the decrease of dates during full glacial period is not strongly expressed, in the data from New Siberia Island this feature is more pronounced. The same is for eastern Beringia. Dates for Alaska do not show clear modality away from full glacial period (Guthrie, 1990).
Abundance of food resources was favorable for ancient man populating these latitudes in the late Pleistocene.
Guthrie, R. D., 1990, Frozen fauna of the mammoth steppe: the story of Blue Babe: The University of Chicago Press. Chicago and London, p. 242-244.
Sulerzhitsky, L. D., Romanenko F. A., 1997, Age and distribution of the ĆMammoth faunaŠ of the polar region of Asia (radiocarbon dating results): Cryosphere of Earth, v. 1, No 4, p. 12-19.
Figure 1. The most important localities that have produced remains of Upper Pleistocene mammals in northern West Beringia.
Key to numbered localities. 1. Bykovsky peninsular; 2. Mus-Khaja; 3. Lower Adycha; 5 New Siberia Isl.; 6. Bolshoy Liakhovsky Isl.; 7. Ojogos Yar; 8. Khaptashinsky Yar; 9. Bereliokh; 10. Right trib. of Indigirka (numerous local.); 11. Kuropatochia; 12. Alazeja; 13. Chukochia; 14. Duvany Yar; 15 Wrangel Isl.
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