Abstract

A partial juvenile Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) skeleton from nearshore marine sands at Courtenay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia has been radiocarbon dated to 12 570 ± 70 BP. This date is supported by both stratigraphic and regional sea-level emergence data and is similar to radiocarbon dates on a Steller sea lion humerus from Bowen Island, just north of Vancouver. The juvenile apparently died from a blow to the braincase, most likely caused by a Steller sea lion bull. The Courtenay specimen is significant since very few Pleistocene otariid fossils are complete enough to be assigned to modern taxa. Associated mollusk remains indicate that the marine paleoclimate of the fossil locality was considerably colder than now — close to that along the northern reaches of Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound, Alaska. Pollen and plant macrofossils collected from the Courtenay site clearly demonstrate the presence of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) forests nearby during this early late-glacial interval. Fish remains (mainly Pacific cod and walleye pollock, with some salmon) from this site probably reflect selection by adult sea lions at a rookery.

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