Fossil packrat middens and the tandem accelerator mass spectrometer

Thomas R. Van Devender, Paul S. Martin, Robert S. Thompson, Kenneth L. Cole, A.J. Timothy Jull, Austin Long, Laurence J. Toolin, Douglas J. Donahue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Analyses of well-preserved plant remains from ancient packrat (Neotoma) middens have yielded much information on the history of vegetation, fauna and climate from the more arid portions of North America over the past 40,000 years1,2. In most of the modern deserts, woodland or forest communities were present during the last glacial age, the Wisconsin. Radiocarbon dating of packrat midden assemblages from a single cave or from several nearby sites in a homogeneous local area can yield a detailed, local vegetation chronology for many thousands of years from within 30-50 m on the rocky slopes in front of the dry rock shelters3,4. The development of radiocarbon dating using the tandem accelerator mass spectrometer (TAMS) allows direct dating of very small samples. Here we present 20 examples of TAMS radiocarbon dates on packrat midden materials to illustrate their usefulness in testing anomalous mixtures of species in Ice Age communities, understanding the details of plant migrations, and refining Wisconsin and Holocene time boundaries based on range changes of important plant species (Table 1, Fig. 1).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)610-613
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume317
Issue number6038
DOIs
StatePublished - 1985

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midden
spectrometer
fossil
radiocarbon dating
vegetation
Last Glacial
cave
chronology
woodland
desert
Holocene
Pleistocene
fauna
climate
history
rock

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Van Devender, T. R., Martin, P. S., Thompson, R. S., Cole, K. L., Jull, A. J. T., Long, A., ... Donahue, D. J. (1985). Fossil packrat middens and the tandem accelerator mass spectrometer. Nature, 317(6038), 610-613. https://doi.org/10.1038/317610a0

Fossil packrat middens and the tandem accelerator mass spectrometer. / Van Devender, Thomas R.; Martin, Paul S.; Thompson, Robert S.; Cole, Kenneth L.; Jull, A.J. Timothy; Long, Austin; Toolin, Laurence J.; Donahue, Douglas J.

In: Nature, Vol. 317, No. 6038, 1985, p. 610-613.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Van Devender, TR, Martin, PS, Thompson, RS, Cole, KL, Jull, AJT, Long, A, Toolin, LJ & Donahue, DJ 1985, 'Fossil packrat middens and the tandem accelerator mass spectrometer', Nature, vol. 317, no. 6038, pp. 610-613. https://doi.org/10.1038/317610a0
Van Devender TR, Martin PS, Thompson RS, Cole KL, Jull AJT, Long A et al. Fossil packrat middens and the tandem accelerator mass spectrometer. Nature. 1985;317(6038):610-613. https://doi.org/10.1038/317610a0
Van Devender, Thomas R. ; Martin, Paul S. ; Thompson, Robert S. ; Cole, Kenneth L. ; Jull, A.J. Timothy ; Long, Austin ; Toolin, Laurence J. ; Donahue, Douglas J. / Fossil packrat middens and the tandem accelerator mass spectrometer. In: Nature. 1985 ; Vol. 317, No. 6038. pp. 610-613.
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