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A Biota Associated with Matuyama-Age Sediments in West-Central Illinois

  • Barry B. Miller (a1), Russell W. Graham (a2), Alan V. Morgan (a3), Norton G. Miller (a4), William D. McCoy (a5), Donald F. Palmer (a1), Alison J. Smith (a1) and J. J. Pilny (a3)...

Abstract

A fossil assemblage containing molluscs, mammals, insects, ostracodes, and plants has been recovered from a silt-filled depression near Lima, in west-central Illinois. The reversed remanent magnetic signature of the sediments and the temporal ranges of two mammals, Microtus paroperarius and Lasiopodomys deceitensis, constrain the age of the assemblage to between 730,000 and 830,000 yr B.P. The extent of isoleucine epimerization in the molluscan shell is consistent with this age interpretation. The fauna includes at least 43 taxa of beetles from 11 families, 35 nominal species of molluscs, and two genera of ostracodes. The mammals include two shrews, three rodents, and a rabbit. The plant macrofossils (no pollen recovered) include 25 species of seed plants and four kinds of terrestrial or wetland mosses. Most of the plant species identified still occur in the upper Midwest, although a few of the taxa are found mainly to the north of the site. The fauna is characterized by an almost total absence of true aquatic taxa. The association of both boreal and thermophilous faunal and floral elements suggest that summer temperatures were not greatly different from present ones, but cooler, moist areas must have been available to support the boreal elements. Local conditions were probably similar to those now found in northeastern Iowa, where rains blocks, fissures, and joints in carbonate bedrock serve as traps for debris accumulations, provide shade, and are kept cool and moist during the hot summer months by cold-air drainage and groundwater seepage. Summer mean temperature in these microhabitats was probably between 18 and 20°C, similar to temperatures that now occur near the northern hardwood spruce-fir transition in the eastern United States.

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