The Oldest Elk on Vancouver Island

Introduction The elk or wapiti (Cervus canadensis) has long been important to Indigenous peoples as both a source of food, clothing and raw materials and were likely hunted by Indigenous peoples when they first appeared on Vancouver Island. The ancestors of today’s North American elk expanded from Siberia into the new world (Meirav et. al. 2014). They may have taken both inland and coast routes. How long they have existed on Vancouver Island is a subject of interest that has yet to be determined. Could elk have survived on the Island since the last interglacial period? The Changing Climate We do not have much detail on what food resources would be available to elk during the cold periods of the … Continue reading “The Oldest Elk on Vancouver Island”

Mastodon. In the Royal B.C. Museum Collection

By Grant Keddie. 2016. Introduction Included here are notes on three mastodon (Mammut americanum) molars in the Royal B.C. Museum Collection and one private collection specimen. Three are from the South-East Corner of Vancouver Island and one from the Yukon Territory. Two of these have been found in the same locations as a larger number of mammoth remains. Although there are interglacial deposits in the areas where the mastodon remains of southeastern Vancouver were found, most of the fossil bearing layers have been deposited in front of the advancing glaciers during cold conditions between about 22,000 and 18,000 years ago. Later around 16,000 to 15,000 years ago ice sheets from the Fraser glaciation passed over the area depositing layers of … Continue reading “Mastodon. In the Royal B.C. Museum Collection”

Late Pleistocene Mountain Goats (Oreamnos Americanus) from Vancouver Island: Biogeograhic Implications

Originally published in the Journal of Mammalogy, 81(3), 666—675. 2000. By David W Nagorsen and Grant Keddie Abstract Although Oreamnos americanus is absent from most Pacific Coast islands, including Van­couver Island, 12,000-year-old skeletal remains were recovered in 2 caves on northern Vancouver Island. The specimens may represent early postglacial immigrants or a relict population derived from a coastal glacial refugium. Limb bones of the fossils are within the size range of modern specimens, suggesting a postglacial origin. O. americanus prob­ably became extinct on Vancouver Island during the early Holocene warming, but inadequacies in the prehistoric faunal record prohibit a determination of a terminal date. The modern distribution of O. americanus on Pacific Coast islands reflects both prehistoric extinctions and low … Continue reading “Late Pleistocene Mountain Goats (Oreamnos Americanus) from Vancouver Island: Biogeograhic Implications”

Rise and Fall of the Beringian Steppe Bison

The widespread extinctions of large mammals at the end of the Pleistocene epoch have often been attributed to the depredations of humans; here we present genetic evidence that questions this assumption. We used ancient DNA and Bayesian techniques to reconstruct a detailed genetic history of bison throughout the late Pleistocene and Holocene epochs. Our analyses depict a large diverse population living throughout Beringia until around 37,000 years before the present, when the population’s genetic diversity began to decline dramatically. The timing of this decline correlates with environmental changes associated with the onset of the last glacial cycle, whereas archaeological evidence does not support the presence of large populations of humans in Eastern Beringia until more than 15,000 years later.

What Happened to the Mega Fauna?

June 14, 2016. By Grant Keddie Large animals, such as mammoths, mastodons, horses and camels that roamed North America near the end of the ice age are referred to as mega-fauna. Why these large animals went extinct has been widely debated but answers are beginning to emerge. New information is showing the answer is more complex than previously thought. Both climate change and human hunting play a role at different times in different places. Expanding and Shrinking – Habitat and Genes Before the appearance of humans on the northern landscapes we see that ecosystem stability for animal species generally persisted over long periods of time. During repeated sudden climate changes over the last few hundred thousand years of the Pleistocene (2.6 … Continue reading “What Happened to the Mega Fauna?”

Taxonomy, location of origin and health status of proboscideans from Western Canada investigated using stable isotope analysis

ABSTRACT: We investigated the application of stable isotope analysis of proboscidean remains (collagen in bone/ dentin/cementum and structural carbonate in enamel bioapatite) for genus-level identification of isolated specimens, assessment of geographical origins, and testing for nutritional stress. Mammoths (Mammuthus sp.) tended to have higher d15Ncol and lower d13Ccol than mastodons (Mammut americanum), but differences were not significant in every location. Determining the genus of isolated specimens may be possible for locations and time periods with good isotopic baselines, but environmental changes can confound interpretations. For example, an Alberta proboscidean with a d15Ncol of +1.4%o (characteristic of mastodons) ultimately proved to be a mammoth. Its surprisingly low nitrogen isotope composition is attributable to the recently deglaciated environment it inhabited. We provided … Continue reading “Taxonomy, location of origin and health status of proboscideans from Western Canada investigated using stable isotope analysis”

Dietary niche separation of three Late Pleistocene bear species from
Vancouver Island

2022. By Cara Kubiak, Vaughan Grimes, Geert Van Biesen, Grant Keddie, Mike Buckley, Reba Macdonald, M. P. Richards. ABSTRACT: Competition between taxa related to climate changes has been proposed as a possible factor in Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions, and here we present isotope evidence of the diets of three co‐existing bear species [black bear (Ursus americanus), brown bear (Ursus arctos), and the now extinct short‐faced bear (Arctodus simus)] from a locale in western North America dating to the Late (Terminal) Pleistocene (~14.5–11.7 ka). The three bear species were found at several sites on Vancouver Island, on the western coast of Canada. To examine the chronological overlap and niche partitioning between these species of bear, we used direct radiocarbon dating, stable isotope … Continue reading “Dietary niche separation of three Late Pleistocene bear species from
Vancouver Island”

Muskox in British Columbia

May 6, 2016? By Grant Keddie One of the most exciting fossil finds on Vancouver Island is the skull of an extinct muskox called Symbos cavifrons (1). It was collected in 1969, from the lower half of a 15 meter thick gravel deposit at the bottom of the Butler Brothers gravel pit on the Saanich Peninsula, 12km north of Victoria. Overlaying this lower layer were 6 meters of sediment with a lower glacial till, then silts and sands and another till layer near the top.       The only other Symbos fossil from British Columbia that has survived in a Museum collection is a skull from Dease Lake in the northern part of the Province. Details of these finds were published in 1975, by … Continue reading “Muskox in British Columbia”