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Sub-fossil beetle assemblages associated with the “mammoth fauna” in the Late Pleistocene localities of the Ural Mountains and West Siberia

Pensoft Publishers
Publication Date
DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.100.1524
  • Article
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Abstract The distribution of beetles at the end of the Middle Pleninglacial (=terminal Quaternary) was examined based on sub-fossil material from the Ural Mountains and Western Siberia, Russia. All relevant localities of fossil insects have similar radiocarbon dates, ranging between 33,000 and 22,000 C14 years ago. Being situated across the vast territory from the southern Ural Mountains in the South to the middle Yamal Peninsula in the North, they allow latitudinal changes in beetle assemblages of that time to be traced. These beetles lived simultaneously with mammals of the so-called “mammoth fauna” with mammoth, bison, and wooly rhinoceros, the often co-occurring mega-mammalian bones at some of the sites being evidence of this. The beetle assemblages found between 59° and 57°N appear to be the most interesting. Their bulk is referred to as a “mixed” type, one which includes a characteristic combination of arcto-boreal, boreal, steppe and polyzonal species showing no analogues among recent insect complexes. These peculiar faunas seem to have represented a particular zonal type, which disappeared since the end of the Last Glaciation to arrive here with the extinction of the mammoth biota. In contrast, on the sites lying north of 60°N, the beetle communities were similar to modern sub-arctic and arctic faunas, yet with the participation of some sub-boreal steppe components, such as Poecilus ravus Lutshnik and Carabus sibiricus Fischer-Waldheim. This information, when compared with our knowledge of synchronous insect faunas from other regions of northern Eurasia, suggests that the former distribution of beetles in this region could be accounted for both by palaeo-environmental conditions and the impact of grazing by large ruminant mammals across the so-called “mammoth savannas”.

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