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Quaternary, Volume 4, Issue 3 (September 2021) – 11 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The cave lion (Panthera spelaea) was the largest predator of the Late Pleistocene in Eurasia, able to hunt even such large animals as the young woolly mammoth or woolly rhino. Until recently, only skulls and bone remains of the cave lion had been found, but now four carcasses of the lion’s cubs have been discovered in excellent preservation, stored in frozen conditions in Yakutsk. The research conducted by the international team offers significant new information about the morphology and genetic peculiarities of this species. Like other representatives of the so-called “mammoth fauna”, cave lions were very well adapted to the severe conditions of the Ice Age in the north of Siberia. View this paper
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Article
The Quaternary Climatic and Tectonic Development of the Murat River Valley (Muş Basin, Eastern Turkey) as Recorded by Fluvial Deposits Dated by Optically Stimulated Luminescence
Quaternary 2021, 4(3), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4030029 - 14 Sep 2021
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Abstract
The paper describes climatic and tectonic effects on fluvial processes of East Anatolia. This study from the Muş Basin contains three alluvial terrace levels (T3-T1) ranging from 30–35 m to 3–5 m above the present Murat River in its middle section. In order [...] Read more.
The paper describes climatic and tectonic effects on fluvial processes of East Anatolia. This study from the Muş Basin contains three alluvial terrace levels (T3-T1) ranging from 30–35 m to 3–5 m above the present Murat River in its middle section. In order to provide a chronology for the evaluation of the significant, effects of climatic changes and tectonic uplift, we used optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of the river deposits of the youngest (T3) and medium terrace (T2). The ages from these terrace deposits show that the T3 has formed approximately 6.5 ka ago, i.e., during the last part of the Holocene (MIS 1) and T2 has formed nearly 25 ka ago, i.e., during MIS 2 at the ending of the last glacial period. According to these results, it appears that the Murat River established its terrace sequences both in cold and warm periods. The variations in climate oriented fluvial evolution between the East Anatolia fluvial system and the temperate-periglacial fluvial systems in Europe may be the conclusion of different vegetation cover and melting thicker snow coverings in cold periods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluvial Archives: Climatic and Topographical Influences)
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Article
Ethnoarchaeology of Introducing Agriculture and Social Continuity among Sedentarised Hunter–Gatherers: The Transition from the Jomon to the Yayoi Period
Quaternary 2021, 4(3), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4030028 - 14 Sep 2021
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Abstract
This study was conducted to elucidate the introduction of agriculture and social continuity from the Jomon to the Yayoi period, from an ethnoarchaeological perspective. The Yayoi period has been divided into two types: a broad spectrum economy that relied on many kinds of [...] Read more.
This study was conducted to elucidate the introduction of agriculture and social continuity from the Jomon to the Yayoi period, from an ethnoarchaeological perspective. The Yayoi period has been divided into two types: a broad spectrum economy that relied on many kinds of resources, such as rice, millet, and nuts, and a selective economy that specialised in rice and wild boar. However, it is not clear how the livelihoods shifted from the Jomon to the Yayoi period. In this study, ethnohistorical materials were examined first. Ethnohistorical reference materials gathered worldwide have revealed three relationships between hunter–gatherers and farmers: coexistence, fusion, and assimilation. Focusing on fusion, this study examined situations of hunting, gathering, and fishing, as inferred from ruins of the Late and Final Jomon period, and assessed their relationships with agriculture using ethnohistorical reference materials of the Early Edo period. There were not many social changes caused by the introduction of field farming; however, the introduction of paddy rice cultivation had different effects on society depending on the level of investment in obtaining water from streams and springs and creating irrigation features. Full article
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Article
Climate on the Blanca Massif, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colorado, USA, during the Last Glacial Maximum
Quaternary 2021, 4(3), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4030027 - 30 Aug 2021
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Abstract
Temperature-index modeling is used to determine the magnitude of temperature depression on the Blanca Massif, Colorado, required to maintain steady-state mass balances of nine reconstructed glaciers at their extent during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The mean temperature depression thus determined is ~8.6 [...] Read more.
Temperature-index modeling is used to determine the magnitude of temperature depression on the Blanca Massif, Colorado, required to maintain steady-state mass balances of nine reconstructed glaciers at their extent during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The mean temperature depression thus determined is ~8.6 +0.7/−0.9 °C where the uncertainties account for those inherent in the glacier reconstructions, in model parameters (e.g., melt factors), and possible modest changes in LGM precipitation. Associated equilibrium-line altitudes (ELAs) exhibit a statistically significant directional dependency being lower toward the north and east. Under the assumption that regional temperature change was uniform, required changes in precipitation vary systematically—also exhibiting a directional dependency coinciding with that in ELAs—and indicate increases (over modern) occurred on the eastern side of the massif while decreases occurred on the western side. This disparity represents a strengthening of a precipitation asymmetry, particularly winter precipitation, which exists today. The modern precipitation asymmetry may be a consequence of snow being blown over to the eastern side of the massif (advective transport) by southwesterly flow. Intensification of this flow during the LGM would have enhanced advection, and augmented snow accumulation on glaciers, thus explaining the lower ELAs and increased precipitation on that side of the massif. Full article
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Article
‘Moving South’: Late Pleistocene Plant Exploitation and the Importance of Palm in the Colombian Amazon
Quaternary 2021, 4(3), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4030026 - 24 Aug 2021
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Abstract
The role of plants in early human migrations across the globe has received little attention compared to big game hunting. Tropical forests in particular have been seen as a barrier for Late Pleistocene human dispersals due to perceived difficulties in obtaining sufficient subsistence [...] Read more.
The role of plants in early human migrations across the globe has received little attention compared to big game hunting. Tropical forests in particular have been seen as a barrier for Late Pleistocene human dispersals due to perceived difficulties in obtaining sufficient subsistence resources. Archaeobotanical data from the Cerro Azul rock outcrop in the Colombian Amazon details Late Pleistocene plant exploitation providing insight into early human subsistence in the tropical forest. The dominance of palm taxa in the assemblage, dating from 12.5 ka BP, allows us to speculate on processes of ecological knowledge transfer and the identification of edible resources in a novel environment. Following the hypothesis of Martin Jones from his 2009 work, “Moving North: archaeobotanical evidence for plant diet in Middle and Upper Paleolithic Europe”, we contend that the instantly recognizable and economically useful palm family (Arecaceae) provided a “gateway” to the unknown resources of the Amazon forest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Activities and Development of Food Production in the Holocene)
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Article
First Chronological Constraints for the High Terraces of the Upper Ebro Catchment
Quaternary 2021, 4(3), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4030025 - 05 Aug 2021
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Abstract
The Cenozoic sedimentary basins in the Iberian Peninsula show a change from long-term basin infill to incision, a transition that indicates a period of major drainage reorganization that culminated in the throughflow of the networks to the Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans. Both the [...] Read more.
The Cenozoic sedimentary basins in the Iberian Peninsula show a change from long-term basin infill to incision, a transition that indicates a period of major drainage reorganization that culminated in the throughflow of the networks to the Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans. Both the cause of the transition from aggradation to degradation and the linkages to tectonic, climatic, and geomorphic events hinge on the chronology of the fluvial network incision and excavation of the basin’s sedimentary fills. In this paper, we describe the first chronologic data on the highest fluvial terraces of the upper area of the Ebro River, one of the largest fluvial systems in the Iberian Peninsula, to determine the onset of incision and excavation in the basin. For this purpose, we combine electron spin resonance (ESR) and paleomagnetism methods to date strath terraces found at 140, 90, and 85 m above the current river level. Our results show ages of ca. 1.2 and 1.5 Ma for the uppermost river terraces in the upper Ebro catchment, constraining the minimum age of the entrenchment of the upper Ebro River. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluvial Archives: Climatic and Topographical Influences)
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Article
The Preliminary Analysis of Cave Lion Cubs Panthera spelaea (Goldfuss, 1810) from the Permafrost of Siberia
Quaternary 2021, 4(3), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4030024 - 04 Aug 2021
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Abstract
A preliminary description is presented of the well-preserved frozen mummies of two cubs of the extinct cave lion Panthera spelaea (finds of 2017–2018, Semyuelyakh River, Yakutia, eastern Siberia, Russia). The fossil lion cubs were found in close proximity, but they do not belong [...] Read more.
A preliminary description is presented of the well-preserved frozen mummies of two cubs of the extinct cave lion Panthera spelaea (finds of 2017–2018, Semyuelyakh River, Yakutia, eastern Siberia, Russia). The fossil lion cubs were found in close proximity, but they do not belong to the same litter, since their radiocarbon ages differ: the female (named ‘Sparta’) was dated to 27,962 ± 109 uncal years BP, and the male (named ‘Boris’) was dated to 43,448 ± 389 uncal years BP. The lion cubs have similar individual ages, 1–2 months. The general tone of the colour of the fur coat of Sparta is greyish to light brown, whereas, in Boris, the fur is generally lighter, greyish yellowish. It is, therefore, possible that light colouration prevailed with age in cave lions and was adaptive for northern snow-covered landscapes. The article discusses the results of computed tomography of cubs of the cave lion, the possible reasons for their death, and the peculiarities of their existence in the Siberian Arctic. Full article
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Article
Middle Pleistocene Variations in the Diet of Equus in the South of France and Its Morphometric Adaptations to Local Environments
Quaternary 2021, 4(3), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4030023 - 26 Jul 2021
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Abstract
Equus is a very sensitive genus which has expanded over a large area and lived in Europe despite the climatic instability of the Pleistocene. Its persistence and abundance are helpful in understanding and describing environmental and climatic regional parameters. In this study, we [...] Read more.
Equus is a very sensitive genus which has expanded over a large area and lived in Europe despite the climatic instability of the Pleistocene. Its persistence and abundance are helpful in understanding and describing environmental and climatic regional parameters. In this study, we present the result of dental mesowear and microwear analysis and post-cranial skeleton biometry on Equus populations located in two regions in the South of France from ten sites, corresponding to twelve assemblages dated from MIS 12 to MIS 5. The areas refer to two major climatic zones: the oceanic or subcontinental climate for the South West of France, and the Mediterranean for the South East. The first objective of this study is to integrate and compare biometric data, dental wear, and other already-published environmental proxies. The goal is to discuss the validity of horse body shape adaptations on a small geographical scale. The second objective is to describe the impact of environmental features on the horse population through time in the two regions. We observe that the Equus diet was quite diverse, according to microwear analysis which shows adaptations according to seasonal variations. However, they remained mostly grazers over a long period of time. Estimated body mass of Equus in the localities studied here varies from a mean of 468 up to a mean of 570 kg, but these variations failed to be correlated with the diet, the climatic period, or the geographical position of the horse population, probably because of the sample size or the restricted time-span or geographical scale. However, the conformation of the metapodials and the width of the third phalanges may have been linked with environmental and behavioural parameters. The width of the third phalange may be correlated with the recurrence of the snow cover, while the robustness of the metapodial co-occurs with a humid climate. Also, diet may influence the conformation of the bones, since the tall and slender horses seem to be preferentially grazers all year long and seasonally browser horses are tall and robust. Seasonally mixed-feeder horses, all coming from the Mediterranean area, were found to be smaller, perhaps in relation to a less productive environment. The correspondence of the dietary and morphometrical data could suggest high pressure on the horse population, which caused rapid body adaptation. Thus, the combination of these different proxies allows us to suggest more accurate large mammal paleoenvironmental reconstructions. Full article
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Article
Submergence of the Western Greco-Roman Archaeological Site at the Eastern Harbor of Alexandria: Emerged from High Resolution Geophysical Mapping
Quaternary 2021, 4(3), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4030022 - 23 Jul 2021
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Abstract
Marine geophysical surveys were carried out at the underwater site in the south-western sector of the Eastern Harbor of Alexandria, opposite to the Egyptian Sea Scout Club. Survey works aimed to detect and study the surface and subsurface geomorphological changes caused by historic [...] Read more.
Marine geophysical surveys were carried out at the underwater site in the south-western sector of the Eastern Harbor of Alexandria, opposite to the Egyptian Sea Scout Club. Survey works aimed to detect and study the surface and subsurface geomorphological changes caused by historic sea-level rise and natural hazards, by integrating the results of high-resolution geophysical mapping for the seafloor textures and the subsurface layers with previously published core data and sea-level records, the survey works employed echo-sounder, side scan sonar, and sub-bottom profiler. Acoustic data were ground-truthed using an ROV camera and sediment grab sampler. Results of bathymetric mapping and sonar imaging outlined two breakwaters and quay corresponding to a submerged ancient port; also, sediment types were classified according to variation in the magnitude of the backscattered intensities. Interpretation of sub-bottom profiles illustrated the depositional sequence of the topmost sedimentary layers where the sediment thicknesses were thickened by rates that perfectly matched with the recorded sea-level rise rate during the last two millennia, as indicated by isopach maps. Anthropogenic activities were noticed in particular outcropping areas on the sub-bottom profiles. The results explained the role of natural hazards and sea-level rise in changing the geomorphology of the coastline and seabed features. Full article
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Article
History of Mid- and Late Holocene Palaeofloods in the Yangtze Coastal Lowlands, East China: Evaluation of Non-Pollen Palynomorph Evidence, Review and Synthesis
Quaternary 2021, 4(3), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4030021 - 09 Jul 2021
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Abstract
The surface of the lowland deltaic plain around Taihu (Lake Tai), south of the Yangtze river mouth in eastern China, lies near sea level and until recent drainage and development by human societies was mostly covered by wetlands of various types. It was [...] Read more.
The surface of the lowland deltaic plain around Taihu (Lake Tai), south of the Yangtze river mouth in eastern China, lies near sea level and until recent drainage and development by human societies was mostly covered by wetlands of various types. It was created by regular overbank flooding, mainly from the Yangtze, and the deposition of mostly mineral sediments over the several millennia since sea level regained its current altitude in the early mid-Holocene and progradation of the Yangtze delta began. Fluvial activity has therefore been the dominant influence on sedimentation in the Taihu lowlands, and in the lower Yangtze valley generally, and has determined the character of the mainly inorganic sediment sequences that have accumulated there, with autochthonous deposition of organic sediments within the local wetland plant communities playing a minor role. The presence of both clastic flood horizons and peat layers within the deposits of the Taihu plain attests to great variability in the magnitude of fluvial input from the Yangtze, with repeated extreme floods occurring at some periods, but with periods when the growth of peat layers shows low water tables, little exogenic sediment input and so little fluvial influence. We have examined the published evidence for these different depositional environments in the lower Yangtze and the Taihu plain during the Holocene, comparing the flood history with the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze catchment. Discrete phases of high or low flooding influence are recognised, and these correspond with large-scale Holocene climate history. Intensified human land use in recent millennia has complicated this relationship, amplifying the flooding signal. Our palynological research shows that algal microfossil type and abundance is a useful proxy for changing water depth and quality in the aquatic environments of the Holocene Taihu wetlands, and can recognise flooding events that are not registered in the floodplain lithological sequences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluvial Archives: Climatic and Topographical Influences)
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Article
Chronology of Missoula Flood Deposits at the Coyote Canyon Mammoth Site, Washington State, USA
Quaternary 2021, 4(3), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4030020 - 06 Jul 2021
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Abstract
Late Pleistocene outburst megafloods, mostly from glacial Lake Missoula, hydraulically ponded behind downstream constrictions in the Columbia River in southeastern Washington State, USA. Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages for flood deposits from the Coyote Canyon Mammoth Site, located in a high (315–320 m [...] Read more.
Late Pleistocene outburst megafloods, mostly from glacial Lake Missoula, hydraulically ponded behind downstream constrictions in the Columbia River in southeastern Washington State, USA. Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages for flood deposits from the Coyote Canyon Mammoth Site, located in a high (315–320 m asl) distal portion of the transient lake, indicate that at least seven floods ponded high enough to inundate the area during the period 20.9 ± 2.6 ka to 16.3 ± 2.8 ka. This is consistent with a radiocarbon age of about 17.4 ± 0.2 ka cal BP from the middle of the flood sequence. OSL ages from loess deposits overlying a paleosol at the top of the flood sequence range from 14.0 ± 2.3 ka to 10.9 ± 2.0 ka, suggesting a hiatus of about 2.3 thousand years. These datasets are consistent with current understanding that multiple late Pleistocene megafloods occurred between 20 ka and 14 ka and that earlier floods produced higher flood stages than later ones. The lack of flood deposits in the Coyote Canyon area younger than 16 ka supports the hypothesis that younger megafloods did not hydraulically pond in the Pasco Basin above about 230 m asl. Full article
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Article
Late Quaternary Stratigraphy and Geochronology of the Spring Creek Drainage along the Southern High Plains Eastern Escarpment, Northwest Texas
Quaternary 2021, 4(3), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4030019 - 22 Jun 2021
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Abstract
The eastern escarpment breaks of the Southern High Plains of Texas are both a geomorphic and ecotonal transition zone from the high plains surface to the Rolling Plains below. The geoarchaeological record on the Southern High Plains surface is well documented, but few [...] Read more.
The eastern escarpment breaks of the Southern High Plains of Texas are both a geomorphic and ecotonal transition zone from the high plains surface to the Rolling Plains below. The geoarchaeological record on the Southern High Plains surface is well documented, but few studies have investigated the sediments, soils, and geochronology of the eastern escarpment. The current investigation has targeted the discontinuous remnants of Late Quaternary deposits within Spring Creek, a tributary within the upper Brazos River basin. A total of 19 profiles, core, and isolated exposure locations placed along a transect from Macy Fork through upper Spring Creek and 40 radiocarbon ages provide a composite sequence and geochronology that also documents the Late Pleistocene to Late Holocene paleoenvironments of this drainage. The resulting record illustrates a series of major changes in sediments and local habitats over the past ~11,550 radiocarbon years (13,469–13,390 calendar years), characterized primarily by reductions in available water and increasing aridity that peaked during the middle Holocene. This sequence provides significant context to an expanding record of Late Pleistocene to middle Holocene biota and cultures. Subsequent downcutting of the drainage post-6000 14C yr B.P. (6988–6744 calendar years) removed large sections of the depositional sequence. Local topography within Spring Creek drainage greatly impacted the preservation of these deposits. The remaining record provides some different insights than those available from the Southern High Plains record. Full article
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