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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)


Page 13

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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