The discovery of a unique organic deposit in a dry cave on the Colorado Plateau, southern Utah, permits the first comparison of the physical characteristics and the diet of the dung of the extinct mammoths from the arid Southwest, North America, with that of mammoths from Siberia and northern China, the only other known locations of such remains. The deposit buried beneath sand and rockfall is composed primarily of mammoth dung, estimated at over 300 m3. Radiocarbon dates on dung boluses indicate that the mammoths frequented the cave between approximately 14,700 and 11,000 yr B.P. (the range of ages at 2σ). The desiccated boluses, measuring approximately 230 × 170 × 85 mm, are nearly identical in size to dung from extant elephants. The largest contents in the dung are stalks measuring 60 × 4.5 mm. Grasses and sedges dominated the diet, although woody species were commonly eaten.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Earth-Surface Processes
- General Earth and Planetary Sciences