A calendar chronology for Pleistocene mammoth and horse extinction in North America based on Bayesian radiocarbon calibration

A calendar chronology for Pleistocene mammoth and horse extinction in North America based on... Recent debate about the timing of late Pleistocene extinctions in North America has taken place on the radiocarbon timescale. Since the current internationally agreed radiocarbon calibration curve (known as IntCal04) extends back well into the Pleistocene, it is possible to make inferences on the calendar scale. To do so requires some fairly sophisticated, tailored statistical tools, to allow for (a) the presence of considerable uncertainty on individual radiocarbon ages and on the IntCal04 estimate, and (b) the inevitable incompleteness of our access to the fossil record. In this paper we demonstrate Bayesian radiocarbon calibration software, known as BCal, which implements models with both of these features, is tried and tested within the archaeology research community, but has not previously been used by those engaged in extinction research. We conclude that the extinction of horse ( Equus ferus/caballus ) in Alaska and Yukon is broadly contemporary with the arrival of humans in the area and took place at around 14,200 cal BP. We find that the extinction of mammoth ( Mammuthus primigenius ) in the same region occurred around 900 calendar years later (c. 13,300 cal BP). We also establish, with high probability, that the start of the Bölling warm phase occurred before these events and that the start of the Younger Dryas cold phase occurred after. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Quaternary Science Reviews Elsevier

A calendar chronology for Pleistocene mammoth and horse extinction in North America based on Bayesian radiocarbon calibration

Quaternary Science Reviews, Volume 26 (17) – Sep 1, 2007

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Publisher
Elsevier
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Ltd
ISSN
0277-3791
eISSN
1873-457X
DOI
10.1016/j.quascirev.2007.06.013
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Recent debate about the timing of late Pleistocene extinctions in North America has taken place on the radiocarbon timescale. Since the current internationally agreed radiocarbon calibration curve (known as IntCal04) extends back well into the Pleistocene, it is possible to make inferences on the calendar scale. To do so requires some fairly sophisticated, tailored statistical tools, to allow for (a) the presence of considerable uncertainty on individual radiocarbon ages and on the IntCal04 estimate, and (b) the inevitable incompleteness of our access to the fossil record. In this paper we demonstrate Bayesian radiocarbon calibration software, known as BCal, which implements models with both of these features, is tried and tested within the archaeology research community, but has not previously been used by those engaged in extinction research. We conclude that the extinction of horse ( Equus ferus/caballus ) in Alaska and Yukon is broadly contemporary with the arrival of humans in the area and took place at around 14,200 cal BP. We find that the extinction of mammoth ( Mammuthus primigenius ) in the same region occurred around 900 calendar years later (c. 13,300 cal BP). We also establish, with high probability, that the start of the Bölling warm phase occurred before these events and that the start of the Younger Dryas cold phase occurred after.

Journal

Quaternary Science ReviewsElsevier

Published: Sep 1, 2007

References

  • The Bayesian Approach to Interpreting Archaeological Data
    Buck, C.E.; Cavanagh, W.G.; Litton, C.D.

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