pleistocene mammals of north america l.
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Pleistocene Mammals of North America. Mike Hils Palaeontology. Lasted from 1.8 Ma to 10 ka Name comes from Greek meaning “most” and “new” 4 major glaciation events End of the Pleistocene corresponds to the end of the Paleolithic period in Archaeology . The Pleistocene. The Mammals.

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Pleistocene Mammals of North America

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Lasted from 1.8 Ma to 10 ka

Name comes from Greek meaning “most” and “new”

4 major glaciation events

End of the Pleistocene corresponds to the end of the Paleolithic period in Archaeology

The Pleistocene

the mammals
The Mammals
  • Mammals had been diversifying since the K/T extinction 65 Ma before
  • The Cenozoic is the “Age of Mammals”
  • Diversity was much higher than it is now
  • Land bridges formed by volcanism and lowering of sea level allowed for faunal exchanges to occur
the mammals6
The Mammals
  • Orders and Families were much more widely spread than today
  • Although Ohio was mostly covered by ice during the last glaciation, many Pleistocene fossils have been found
  • Many Pleistocene animals are still around today

NA Beaver

Castor canadensis

White-tailed Deer

Odocoileus virginianus

Red Fox

Vulpes vulpes

Black Bear

Ursus americanus


Musk Ox

Ovibos moschatus


Bison bison

Were all found in Ohio!!!


Cervus canadensis


Rangifer tarandus

endemic groups
Endemic Groups
  • Perissodactyls (horses, rhinos, tapirs)
  • Artiodactyls
    • Antilocapridae (Pronghorns)
    • Camelidae (Camels)
    • Tayassuidae (Peccaries)
  • Horses
    • Used to be several species alive
      • About 40 species named
      • May be fewer
    • Today there are only two true horses and 8 other spp in Equus
    • Massive extinction in North America
    • Europeans brought horses back
  • Tapirs
    • 4 spps living in S. American and Asia


Equus scotti


Equus ferus przewalskii

  • Giant Short-faced Bear (Arctodus simus)
    • Genus is ancestral to Spectacled Bear
    • Competition with Ursine bears?
  • North American Lion (Panthera leo atrox)
    • Larger than African & Asian lions
  • Smilodon (Smilodon fatalis)
    • Subfamily Machairodontinae
  • Dire Wolf (Canis dirus)
    • More robust than Gray Wolf
    • Hyaena-like in lifestyle

Canis dirus

Panthera leo atrox

Arcotodus simus

Smilodon fatalis

  • Three families in North America:
    • Gomphotheriidae – Gomphotheres, 3 spp
    • Mammutidae – Mastodons, 1 sp
    • Elephantidae – Mammoths, 4 spp
  • All originated in Africa
  • Represented by 3 species today
    • Asian Elephants most closely related to mammoths

M. dinozordus

Mammut americanum

Burning Tree Mastodon,

Newark, OH


M. primigenius


M. imperator

Mammuthus columbi

  • Endemic to South America
  • Cingulata
    • Glyptodon - armadillo-like
  • Pilosa
    • Giant Ground Sloths
      • 4 spp in United States
      • Last ones went extinct in 1550 on Hispaniola and Cuba


  • Giant Beaver - Castoroides ohioensis
    • Weighed 130-220 lbs


Giant Ground Sloth

Giant Beaver

the extinction
The Extinction
  • The Pleistocene megafauna died out shortly after the Ice Age ended
    • Overkill
    • Climate Change
    • Hyperdisease
    • A combination
  • Megafauna also died out in all of the other continents
    • Some obviously continue in special environments
things to consider
Things to Consider
  • Many animals alive today lived back then
  • Elephants still live in Africa and Asia
  • Horses survived in Asia, Africa and Europe
pleistocene parks
Pleistocene Parks
  • Russia is setting up a preserve to recreate Pleistocene ecosystem
    • Will stock it with modern equivalents
    • Hope to clone mammoths
  • It’s been suggested that the US create one, too
  • Kind of been done with feral horses out west