Isotope Geochemistry and Paleontology of a Giant Long-horned Bison from the Snowmass Village Fossil Site, CO
Snowmass, CO is the location of a high altitude (2,705m) fossil site from the Illinoian age of the Pleistocene epoch. A small glacial lake was located in the area, and its shores contain examples of the diverse vertebrate ecology of the area.
Bison latifrons was adapted to forest openings and woodlands, and when in this type of environment, functioned as a browser of high growing, woody plants. Mammut americanum (American mastodon) occupied a similar niche. Multiple individuals of each species were recovered from the Snowmass site, and would presumably compete or partition resources.
Carbon and oxygen isotopic analysis aids in reconstruction of paleoclimate, and when compared against models and known data, can pinpoint the altitudinal and latitudinal origins of animals. Isotopic work on B. latifrons can help to explain the distribution and possible migration patterns of these animals, but there has been little previous work done on the subject. δ18O values of the fossil animal will be compared to other individuals and modern samples to determine the paleoecological conditions of the Snowmass site and surrounding localities. The data collected from the Snowmass B. latifrons will be compared with data from the UNLV B. latifrons specimen from Panaca, NV, and potentially individuals from the Western Science Center in Hemet, CA and American Falls, ID. Carbon isotopic data will determine differences or similarities in these animals’ diets. B. latifrons disappears from the fossil record before M. americanum, and this early extinction could be explained more completely through the compilation of more data.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90181©2013 AAPG/SEG Rocky Mountain Rendezvous, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, September 27-30, 2013