Results of latest paleontological, stratigraphic and geoarchaeological research of the Volchia Griva mammoth fauna site

S.V. Leshchinskiy

Proceedings of the Zoological Institute RAS, 2018, 322(3): 315–332  ·

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The Volchia Griva is the largest site in Asia where the mammoth fauna remains are buried in situ. It is located in the Baraba forest-steppe (Western Siberia). In the 20th century, remains of at least 70 mammoths, 5 horses, 3 bisons and 1 wolf, as well as 37 stone artifacts were found here. The latest excavations of 2015–2017 on ~30 m2 revealed over 1500 bones and teeth, 95% of which belong to mammoths (at least 14 individuals), and the rest are from horses (3), bison, wolf, red fox, arctic fox, and rodents; associated artifacts – 23 items. With an average thickness of the bonebearing lens ~ 0.3–0.5 m, the local remain concentration exceeded 130/m2. The forty five crossed 14C dates were obtained from these materials, which reveal a burial period of ~20–10 ka BP. Obviously, there was the southernmost and one of the youngest mammoth refugia of Eurasia on this territory. The favorable Ca-Na geochemical landscape of the beast solonetz was the main reason for mammoth to visit the Volchia Griva. During the mineral starvation, the site attracted hundreds of large mammals, the remains of which were buried in mud baths and erosion forms. The main levels of the bone-bearing horizon have been forming for several thousand years, and that matched two waves of the megafauna’s geochemical stress in the Last Glacial Maximum and Late Glacial. Typical bone pathologies, such as exostoses, osteoporosis, erosion of articular surfaces, etc., characterize this process. These facts, together with the lack of strong evidence of hunting and butchering, indicate that the Volchia Griva was the natural mammoth death site, which was well known and used by Palaeolithic humans.

Key words

Baraba Lowland, megafauna’s extinction, Western Siberia, mammoth refugia, Late Palaeolithic, Sartan cryochron

Submitted April 26, 2018  ·  Accepted August 31, 2018  ·  Published September 26, 2018


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