The basal portion of a fossil caribou antler from Graham Island is the only evidence of large terrestrial vertebrates older than the Fraser (late-Wisconsin) glaciation on Haida Gwaii. This antler has been radiocarbon dated three times by different laboratories and all ages fall within the mid-Wisconsin Olympia Interglaciation (Marine Isotope Stage 3, MIS 3). We suggest that the latest date, using ultrafiltration of bone collagen, is closest to the true age at 43 200 ± 650 years BP (48 200 – 45 200 cal BP). Previous paleoecological analysis from Graham Island reconstructed a vegetation cover during MIS 3 consisting of mixed coniferous forest with nonforested openings, similar to cool subalpine forests of today. These conditions are consistent with environments that support woodland caribou and the related extinct Dawson caribou. Morphometric comparison of antlers from woodland and Dawson caribou suggest that they are more similar than previously interpreted and raise questions about the inferred differences between the mainland and island subspecies.

You do not currently have access to this article.