North-Central Section - 47th Annual Meeting (2-3 May 2013)

Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


BAUMANN Jr, Eric, Geology, University of Cincinnati, 5359 Little Turtle Dr, South Lebanon, OH 45065 and CROWLEY, Brooke, Geology and Anthropology, University of Cincinnati, 500 Geology-Physics Building, 345 Clifton Court, Cincinnati, OH 45221,

Like their modern African relatives, the extinct proboscideans of North America likely played important ecological roles, including maintaining open grasslands. Yet, the degree to which these animals utilized different plant resources and moved across the landscape has not been comprehensively investigated in North America. We used stable carbon (δ13C), oxygen (δ18O) and strontium (87Sr/86Sr) isotopes from tooth enamel to investigate the ecology of four mastodons (Mammut americanum) and eight mammoths (Mammuthus spp.) from southwestern Ohio and northwestern Kentucky. We also examined 87Sr/86Sr ratios in regional water bodies. We aimed to answer the following questions: Did these mammoths and mastodons have different dietary regimes? Were these proboscideans local residents or simply passing through the region when they died? If passing through, from where did they come?

Based on tooth morphology and previous isotopic work, we expected that mammoths and mastodons would have differing δ13C values, indicating C4 grazing and C3 browsing niches, respectively. We compared 87Sr/86Sr ratios in waters and proboscideans tooth enamel to identify local residents and potential migrants. We then used δ18O values to pinpoint possible origins for migrant individuals. As anticipated, mammoths have significantly higher δ13C values than mastodons. This suggests that mammoths may have consumed more C4 grasses, although one mammoth has δ13C values suggesting a C3-based diet. Overall, strontium isotope ratios for proboscideans and local waters are indistinguishable. However, one Mammut molar has significantly higher 87Sr/86Sr ratios, suggesting this animal immigrated into the area from somewhere outside of the Midwest. Combined 87Sr/86Sr and δ18O values suggest this animal may have migrated from the southern Appalachians. These results will supply a foundation for future work on proboscideans and other extinct megafauna from the Midwestern United States.