Diet and environment of Mylodon darwinii based on pollen of a Late-Glacial coprolite from the Mylodon Cave in southern Chile

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We studied the pollen content of a well-preserved coprolite of a Late-Glacial giant ground sloth (Mylodon darwinii) from the Mylodon Cave, province Última Esperanza, southern Chile. The specimen was obtained in 1909 and has been stored in a museum in the Netherlands since. It was radiocarbon dated to 13,140 ± 55 BP (15,927–15,522 cal BP), which fits with other radiocarbon dates showing the early Late-Glacial presence of M. darwinii in the province Última Esperanza. Contemporaneous oxygen isotope data from Antarctic EPICA Dome C indicates that our Mylodon specimen lived during a warming phase of the Late-Glacial, ca. 1000 years before the start of the Antarctic Cold Reversal. We compared our pollen data with pollen records showing contemporaneous regional vegetation and discuss the uncertainties in the interpretation of pollen spectra from faeces. To expand on the pollen data, we tested ancient DNA preservation in the sample; we sequenced ~ 9.4 million DNA reads and found that the concentration of ancient plant DNA is below detectable levels. Pollen analysis confirms earlier findings that the Mylodon was a grazer, but the discovery of large amounts of Fragaria and Azorella pollen in the faeces may indicate that Mylodon was also able to select and consume specific plants, and therefore could also be regarded as a selective feeder.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104549
JournalReview of Palaeobotany and Palynology
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Chile, Coprolite, Diet, Giant ground sloth, Late-Glacial, Pollen

ID: 285248058