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In Quest of Great Lakes Ice Age Vertebrates

J. Alan Holman
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 239
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  • Book Info
    In Quest of Great Lakes Ice Age Vertebrates
    Book Description:

    The first book of its kind,In Quest of Great Lakes Ice Age Vertebratesdetails the Ice Age fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals in the provinces and states surrounding the Great Lakes. Holman's work begins with definitions of concepts and terms for the general audience and a general discussion of how the last ice age, the Pleistocene Epoch, affected our physical and biological world. Methods employed and tools used in the collection of vertebrate fossils, as well as ethics and protocol in the maintenance of a useful collection follow, coupled with details of each animal's structure, habits, habitats, and ecological importance. The heart of the book is a species-by-species account of the Pleistocene vertebrates of the region, followed by an examination of the compelling problems of the Pleistocene relative to faunal interpretations, including overall ecological makeup of the region's fauna, vertebrate range adjustment that occurred in the region, Pleistocene extinction effects on the animals of the region, the aftermath of the Ice Age, and a look at what the future may hold for the region.

    eISBN: 978-0-87013-927-7
    Subjects: General Science, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    From the human standpoint, the Ice Age (Pleistocene epoch) is the most important unit of geological time, for changes wrought during this short epoch still strongly influence almost every aspect of human life. The Pleistocene consisted of cold stages when massive ice sheets moved down into the Great Lakes region from the north, smothering the landscape, and warmer stages in when the ice retreated. The power of the glaciers etched a new topography on the land and carried vast amounts of sedimentary material (including huge boulders) great distances. In what is now the Canadian prairies, gigantic masses of Cretaceous bedrock...

  6. 2 The Pleistocene Ice Age
    (pp. 10-15)

    The Ice Age that I shall discuss in this book is confined to the Pleistocene epoch of the Quaternary period (see fig. 3). Other ice ages have occurred far back in time including the Permian and Ordovician periods and even in the Precambrian, where readily discernable glacial features may be observed in the rocks. Ancient striated rocks as well as those with many other glacial features have even been discovered near the equator. The Pleistocene began about 1.9 million B.P. (1.9 million years Before Present) and ended about 10,000 B.P. with the worldwide extinction of many large mammals. The time...

  7. 3 The Pleistocene in the Great Lakes Region
    (pp. 16-19)

    The Great Lakes region may divided into two subregions. Subregion I is the very large northern area presently mainly covered by glacially derived Wisconsinan sediments and dominated by Wisconsinan glacial topography. Subregion II is in a much smaller southern area beyond the limits of the Wisconsinan ice (fig. 9). Although areas in Subregion II have been previously overridden by ice predating the Wisconsinan, it is generally free of glacially derived surficial sediments, and outcrops of bedrock are much more common than in Subregion I.

    The modern topography, flora, and fauna of these subregions are considerably different, as are their Pleistocene...

  8. 4 Where to Find Pleistocene Vertebrate Fossils
    (pp. 20-24)

    In the Great Lakes region, the best places to find Pleistocene vertebrate fossils in Subregion I are kettles and other small, glacially derived basins. Caves are by far the most important sources of vertebrate fossils in Subregion II.

    The Wisconsinan ice left countless thousands of kettles and other small, glacially derived basins in its wake. These features filled with sterile glacial meltwater and with sufficient passage of time developed into pond communities that supported a thriving biota of bacteria, protists (single-celled organisms), fungi, plants, and animals. Eventually, these ponds filled in and disappeared.

    Such infilled Pleistocene basins possess a sedimentary...

  9. 5 Collecting the Fossils
    (pp. 25-29)

    Ice Age vertebrate fossils are nonrenewable resources and invaluable scientific objects. Studies of Pleistocene vertebrates are significant in many ways. Not only are they necessary for the correlation of Pleistocene stages and land mammal ages, but they often reflect the patterns and processes of evolution. In some cases, vertebrate fossils indicate life patterns and food habits of prehistoric humans. Therefore, it is important to say something about the ethics of fossil collecting.

    To the scientist, vertebrate fossils are never important as individual objects but only in the way they relate to the layers and sediments in which they were found...

  10. 6 Dating the Fossils
    (pp. 30-31)

    The most scientifically important Pleistocene vertebrate fossils are those that have absolute dates to go with them. Today, there are several methods of absolute dating of Pleistocene events. Dates based on a time scale arrived at by counting cyclic events such as the formation of yearly varves (layers of dark sediment deposited in a lake or pond) or yearly tree rings have been successful in northern regions or in areas where trees have lived to be very old, such as in Arizona (bristlecone pine) and California (giant redwoods). Unfortunately, trees have not been found that have lived to be old...

  11. 7 A Bestiary of Great Lakes Region Ice Age Vertebrates
    (pp. 32-145)

    This chapter presents a systematic discussion of genera and species of Ice Age vertebrates known from the province and states surrounding the Great Lakes. References to the sites referred to in this chapter are listed alphabetically by author and date under provincial and state headings in the bibliography of chapters 7 and 8. If they are known, both the Land Mammal Ages (LMA) and the classical Pleistocene ages, in that order, are referred to in the site references at the end of the taxonomic accounts.

    Fishes are moderately well represented in the Pleistocene of the Great Lakes region (figs. 15...

  12. 8 Important Pleistocene Vertebrate Sites in the Great Lakes Region
    (pp. 146-171)

    This chapter describes some important Pleistocene vertebrate sites in the Great Lakes region. Sites will be presented in chronological order from older to younger Pleistocene sequences. Emphasis will be on the larger sites that have yielded large vertebrate faunas and/or especially important species. For instance, the Late Wisconsinan Sheriden Pit Cave Site in northwestern Ohio will be featured because of its extensive faunal list as well as its important species. On the other hand, the Sangamonian Hopwood Farm Site in south-central Illinois will be discussed mainly because of the presence of a single important species, the giant land tortoise (Hesperotestudo...

  13. 9 Interpretation of the Fauna
    (pp. 172-196)

    This chapter deals with the interpretation of the Pleistocene vertebrates of the Great Lakes region relative to the ecological structure of vertebrate communities, the two Pleistocene faunal subregions in the region, the vertebrate range adjustments that occurred, and the extinction of the large mammals at the end of the epoch.

    To put the Great Lakes region Ice Age community structure in perspective, the origin of terrestrial communities dominated by very large land vertebrates is considered here. Such communities first came into being with the diversification and increase in size of dinosaurs in the Jurassic. Dinosaur communities dominated the landscape for...

  14. 10 The Holocene and the Aftermath of the Ice Age
    (pp. 197-198)

    Most of the world’s scientists now agree that the epoch we call the Pleistocene ended about 10,000 years ago. The epoch that followed the Pleistocene, the one we are living in now, is called the Holocene. The event that marked the end of the Pleistocene was the extinction of a large number of families, genera, and species of large mammals. Based on fossil evidence, it has been demonstrated that equable climates in many parts of the world were replaced by the zonal climates that are familiar to us today and that in these zones, mosaic communities were replaced by much...

  15. Appendix 1
    (pp. 199-205)
  16. References
    (pp. 206-222)
  17. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 223-224)
  18. Indices
    (pp. 225-230)