International Scientific Conference "Archeology of the Arctic"
November 19-23, 2017

The mammals fauna of the North of Western Siberia in the late Pleistocene and the Holocene.

P.A. Kosintsev, O.P. Bachura

Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Yekaterinburg



* The study was performed as part of the UrB RAS project № -15-15-4-37.


The article offers a description of the mammals fauna within the boundaries of the modern tundra and the forest-tundra zones of Western Siberia in the late Pleistocene and the Holocene. The authors used the data on the species composition of bone remains from over 50 occupation sites of the late Pleistocene and 35 occupation sites of the Holocene, traces of the mammals vital functions, over 30 radiocarbon dates and the results of paleographic reconstructions.

Late Pleistocene. All major types of the "mammoth" fauna have been found in the territory under study.The "mammoth" fauna existed continuously in the north of Western Siberia over the past 45 thousand years including the period of maximum cooling (LGM). No changes in the theriofauna composition within the studied time interval have been identified. The extinction of the typical species of the mammoth fauna (a mammoth, wild horse, and primordial bison) occurred in the beginning of the Holocene.

The Holocene. The beginning of the early Holocene (10,000-9,400 years ago) saw a rapid expansion of forest and its movement further north and, together with the forest the expansion in the northern direction of the taiga types of therio-complex. The shrinking of the forest boundary in the south occurred in three stages: 9400-7,500; 7,500-3,800 и 3,800 years ago – present time. Correspondingly there were significant changes in the mammals fauna composition in the north of Western Siberia. This happened at the expense of shrinking of the taiga therio-complex areals in the southern direction accompanied by a gradual reduction in the variety of the theriofauna composition. Throughout the Holocene there were apparently no changes in the areals of a wolf, wolverine, ermine, weasel, reindeer, and, possibly, polar bear. In the end of the final period this process was intensified by the humans interference. As a result of commercial hunting over the past 300-200 years such species as a beaver and a sable have disappeared from the region's fauna. The region's theriofauna has acquired its present day composition about 200 years ago.

The obtained data demonstrated that in the end of the late Pleistocene and in the Holocene (the past 45,000 years) a rather rich mammals fauna continuously existed in the territory of the north of Western Siberia including also   various commercial species. They could have supported the continuous presence of humans in the region.

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