Palaeoenvironmental context of the Late-glacial woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) discoveries at Condover, Shropshire, UK

JRM Allen, JD Scourse, AR Hall, Geoffrey Coope

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12 Citations (Scopus)


In 1986/1987 the remains of several mammoths, Mammuthus primigenius (Blumenbach), were discovered on the spoil heap of an actively working gravel pit at Condover, Shropshire, England. The discovery of the remains posed two questions that could be addressed by analyses of biological proxies. First, as none of the bones was found in situ it was necessary to confirm the stratum in which the remains occurred. Second, what was the environment in which these animals lived and died? A range of biological indicators was used to address these questions, including pollen, spore and algal, plant macrofossil, invertebrate, anuran and biological mineral analyses. Multivariate statistical analyses of palynological and Pediastrum data, along with evidence from the Coleopteran assemblages, support the attribution of the mammoth bones to a unit of dark grey clayey sandy silt, although they may have lived at the time of the overlying green detritus mud. The palaeobiological data supports the correlation of these sediments to the Devensian Late-glacial. The mammoths entered this basin at the start of the Late-glacial Interstadial (Greenland Interstadial 1e) (ca. 14830-3930 cal. year BP; 12 300 +/- 110 C-14 year BP) and became mired in soft cohesive sediments. Palaeotemperature reconstructions, based on the Coleopteran assemblages, from the time when the mammoths actually became mired, show that the climate was temperate with mean July temperatures between 15 and 19 degrees C and mean January temperatures between -13 and +6 degrees C. Biological indicators from the sediments encasing the mammoths indicate that the landscape surrounding the basin was treeless and dry, contrasting with rich vegetation within the basin itself that had possibly attracted the mammoths to the site. Evidence of sedimentary disturbance suggests that the mammoths caused large-scale bioturbation of the deposits making palacoenvironmental interpretations difficult. Fossils of terrestrial blowflies, carcass and dung beetles show that some of the decaying corpses must have lain exposed on the land surface for sufficient time for the soft parts to have rotted away and skin and bones to have become desiccated before many of them sank into the dark grey clayey sandy silt. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Soils, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-446
Number of pages33
JournalGeological Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009


  • pollen
  • plant macrofossils
  • palaeoclimate
  • kettle-hole
  • Coleoptera
  • Devensian Late-glacial
  • Pediastrum


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