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Calibration of mammoth (Mammuthus) dispersal into North America using rare earth elements of Plio-Pleistocene mammals from Florida


The first appearance of mammoth (Mammuthus) is currently used to define the beginning of the Irvingtonian North American Land Mammal Age at about 1.4 Ma. Thereafter, mammoth fossils are common and widespread in North America until the end of the Pleistocene. In contrast to this generally accepted biochronology, recent reports have asserted that mammoth occurs in late Pliocene (ca. 2.5 Ma) alluvium from the Santa Fe River of northern Florida. The supposedly contemporaneous late Pliocene fossil assemblage from the Santa Fe River that produced the mammoth specimens actually consists of a mixture of diagnostic Blancan (late Pliocene) and late Rancholabrean (latest Pleistocene) species. Fossil bones and teeth of the two mammalian faunas mixed together along the Santa Fe River have significantly different rare earth element (REE) signatures. The REE signatures of mammoth are indistinguishable from those of Rancholabrean mammals, yet they are different from those of diagnostic Blancan vertebrates from these same temporally mixed faunas of the Santa Fe River. Thus, no evidence for late Pliocene mammoth exists in Florida, and mammoth fossils remain reliable biochronological indicators for Irvingtonian and Rancholabrean terrestrial sequences throughout mid- and lower-latitude North America.

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*Corresponding author. Fax: +1 352 846 0287. Email Address: (B.J. MacFadden).
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