Browsing Radiocarbon, Volume 54, Number 1 (2012) by Subjects
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Radiocarbon Dating of Pleistocene Fauna and Flora from Starunia, SW UkraineNew attempts are presented to determine the age of large Pleistocene mammals excavated at Starunia, ~130 km southeast of Lviv, Ukraine. This remarkable discovery made at the beginning of the 20th century included a complete carcass of woolly rhinoceros (No. 2), fragments of 3 woolly rhinoceroses (Nos. 1, 3, and 4) and remnants of numerous specimens of other fossil fauna and flora. Although attempts to date paleontological findings from Starunia site go back to the early 1970s, the results obtained before 2006 are somewhat misleading, mostly due to unresolved contamination problems. Comprehensive cleaning of the samples adopted in the framework of this study was aimed at removal of 2 potential sources of contamination: (i) radiocarbon-free hydrocarbons abundant at the burial site; and (ii) allochthonous organic materials containing contemporary carbon that were used in the past during preservation of the dated specimens. Two types of samples have been analyzed for their 14C content in the framework of the present study: (i) fragments of bones and teeth collected from specimens stored or exposed in the Natural History museums in Lviv and Kraków; and (ii) samples of terrestrial macrofossils retrieved from sediment cores obtained during the 2007–2008 field campaigns in the Starunia area. 14C analyses of collagen were supplemented by measurements of its elemental C/N ratio and 13C/12C and 15N/14N isotope ratios. Three 14C dates obtained for rhinoceros No. 2 span the age range from 35.3 to 40.0 ka BP, in agreement with the minimum age estimated from macrofossils. The mean value of 37.7 ± 1.7 ka BP falls in the range of ages reported for big Pleistocene mammals from other locations in Europe. The bones of rhinoceros No. 3, which were found in close vicinity to those of rhinoceros No. 2, reveal a 14C age of 36.7 ± 0.6 ka BP. The δ15N and δ13C values obtained for collagen extracted from bones and teeth belonging to rhinoceroses Nos. 1, 2, and 3 are in a broad agreement with analogous literature data for large Pleistocene mammals found in other sites in Europe, North America, and Siberia.