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Haida Gwaii may have once been home to mammoths

File photos courtesy: Wikipedia

File photos courtesy: Wikipedia

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, October 8, 2015, 9:13 AM - Researchers at Simon Fraser University believe B.C.'s Haida Gwaii was once covered with tundra and meadows and home to caribou and mammoths some 57,000 years ago.

That conclusion was made after researchers found dung-eating fungi in a layer of peat in Haida Gwaii dating to the end of the second ice age.

Te fungi has previously been found on the dung of large herbivores at other sites.

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"There is so much dung at the Cape Ball site that we think it must have been a watering hole for large mammals and that they left behind a lot of poop," lead author Rolf Mathewes, a biologist and paleoecologist, told the Vancouver Sun.

"(The spores) are a strong indicator - based on what we know from other studies - of cattle, bison and sites associated with mammoths and mastodons, where these spores show up almost every time."

Researchers have yet to find mammoth or mastodon fossils on Haida Gwaii, but Kathleen Dalzell's history of the Queen Charlotte Islands (now referred to as Haida Gwaii) mentions the presence of 'elephant tusks' in the area.

"That could have been from a mammoth or mastodon and they were apparently lying in someone's yard for years," Mathewes told the Vancouver Sun.

Mammoth and caribou remains have been found on Vancouver Island and in southwestern B.C. in the past.

Researchers used a technique called optical dating combined with pollen and spore analysis to draw their recent conclusions.

Source: Vancouver Sun


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