Whitford, Philip; Whitford, Kathryn (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume 74 (1986)
Long, Charles A.
Pleistocene caribou in central Wisconsin, pp. 12-13 PDF (722.1 KB)
1986] Long—Caribou in Central Wisconsin 13 imately 625 mm measured to the terminal palmate expansion, broken off and hollow; from the burr about 150 mm to the base of the first palmate tine; and along the beam 260 mm beyond to the next and opposite tine (entirely broken away). The length from tip of brow tine to the broken expansion is approximately 700 mm. The first palmate tine on the main beam measured 350 mm from the beam to the deepest notch of the palm, which was 205 mm across. Its greatest length was 392 mm. The diameter of the ovate base, shed from the pedicel, is about 42 to 47.5 mm in diameter, and of the burr approximately 61.5 mm (see Fig. 1). Never common in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan in historic times, caribou wandered into these areas from muskeg habitats in nearby Minnesota and Ontario. A. W. Schorger (1942) reviewed the records and reports of caribou, listing several from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and questionable ones for the Brule area in northwest Wisconsin, probably escaped animals from the Pierce estate. Among prehistoric bones found in Polk County, also northwest Wisconsin, a few were reported as caribou (Eddy and Jenks, 1935). The caribou apparently wandered into lower Michigan after the Wisconsin glacier receded. Specimens were dated at 11,200 and 5,870 ± 200 years BP. Baker (1983) suggests that historical records represent the woodland caribou, whereas the prehistoric caribou were of a larger Arctic form (but the woodland caribou is a large form). Subspecific characters are hardly obvious in broken and fragmentary remains of antlers. Even the sex is impossible to know. Banfield (1974) and other Canadian workers considered all the large woodland caribou to belong to one subspecies, R. t. caribou. Apparently all the caribou in Wisconsin belonged to this species and descended from the same stock. The antler herein described is slightly smaller but very similar in form to that figured by West (1978) from southeast Wisconsin. The nearest of his records is approximately 150 km southeastward, in Sheboygan County. The other is from Wauwatosa, near Milwaukee. West (1978) assigned his specimens to Late Pleistocene age, one antler dated by its sediments to about 12,500 years BP. In summary, all known prehistoric caribou from Wisconsin are scattered along the front of the Wisconsinan moraines in Polk, Waushara and Sheboygan counties, and near Milwaukee. I acknowledge with thanks the cooperation of both of the Zelienkas. LITERATURE CITED Baker, R. H. 1983. Michigan mammals. Michigan State Univ. Press and Wayne State Press, Detroit, Michigan. 642 pp., illus. Banfield, A. W. F. 1974. The mammals of Canada. Univ. Toronto Press, Toronto. 438 pp. Eddy, S. and A. E. Jenks. 1935. A kitchen midden with bones of extinct animals in the Upper Lakes area. Science, 81(2109):535. Schorger, A. W. 1942. Extinct and endangered mammals and birds of the Upper Great Lakes Region. Trans. Wis. Acad. Sci., Arts and Lett. 34:23-44. West, R. M. 1978. Late Pleistocene (Wisconsinan) caribou from southeastern Wisconsin. Trans. Wis. Acad. Sci., Arts and Lett. 66: 50-53.
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