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Nature. 2003 Sep 25;425(6956):388-90.

An Arctic mammal fauna from the Early Pliocene of North America.

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Division of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York 10024, USA.


A peat deposit on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada, allows a unique glimpse of the Early Pliocene terrestrial biota north of the Arctic Circle. The peat accumulated in a beaver pond surrounded by boreal larch forest near regional tree line in coastal hills close to the Arctic Ocean. The ecological affinities of the plant and beetle remains contained in the peat indicate that winter temperatures on Ellesmere Island were nearly 15 degrees C higher and summer temperatures 10 degrees C higher than they are today. Here we show that the mammalian remains buried in the peat represent mainly taxa of Eurasiatic zoogeographic and phyletic affinities, including the first North American occurrence of a meline badger (Arctomeles). This deposit contains direct evidence of the composition of an Early Pliocene (4-5 million years ago) arctic mammalian fauna during an active period of interchange between Asia and North America.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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