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Neotoma in the Late Pleistocene of New Mexico and Chihuahua


, : Neotoma in the Late Pleistocene of New Mexico and Chihuahua. Carnegie Museum of Natural History Special Publication, 164-178 No. 8

Selected characters apt to be present in fossil specimens were studied in modern woodrats (Neotoma) in an effort to determine discriminatory features. Emphasis was on the lower 1st molar. Most modern specimens of the 8 spp. studied (N. albigula, N. cinerea, N. floridana, N. goldmani, N. lepida, N. mexicana, N. micropus and N. stephensi) can be identified correctly to species by the use of standard statistical methods and discriminant analysis. Particularly important in preliminary separation into major groups is the absence or near-absence (.ltoreq. 2 mm in height) of the lateral dentine tract of the 1st lower molar in 1 group (N. albigula, N. floridana, some N. lepida and N. micropus) vs. presence (.gtoreq. 2 mm in height) in a 2nd group (N. cinerea, N. goldmani, most N. lepida, N. mexicana and N. stephensi). Within the group possessing the developed tract, N. goldmani and N. lepida tend to have the tract lower in height than do the other members of the group. Application of the discriminatory data to over 500 fossil specimens from 24 Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene sites located in New Mexico and southern Chihuahua reveals profound differences between interstadial, stadial and Early Holocene woodrat faunas. Interstadial faunas (.apprx. 25,000-33,000 B.P.) were characterized by presence of 2 undescribed species (apparently related to N. cinerea and N. goldmani) along with N. albigula and N. micropus. Most stadial sites were dominated by N. cinerea, with other species represented being N. albigula, N. ?goldmani, N. floridana and N. micropus. Of these, N. floridana and possibly N. micropus appeared only toward the end of stadial times. Jimenez Cave, in southern Chihuahua, is not certainly stadial in age; N. lepida was common. Early Holocene sites had woodrat faunas similar to those of today except for the additional presence of N. mexicana.

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