The contribution of Late Pleistocene megafauna finds to submerged archaeology and the interpretation of ancient coastal landscapes

Stefan Claesson, Sina Baleka, Michael Hofreiter, Chris Widga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In 2013, two Pleistocene megafaunal remains, a single mammoth tooth and a partial juvenile mastodon mandible with teeth were recovered by a scallop-fisherman from two separate locations in the Merrimack River embayment off the coast of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. These specimens follow on previous finds by fishermen in the same locale over the last two decades, as well as numerous other offshore megafauna specimens and prehistoric stone tools, which have occurred in the Gulf of Maine for > 50 years. This paper examines the value and scientific sampling potential of previously recovered specimens and isolated finds in the Gulf of Maine. Specifically, it discusses isolated finds as indicators of submerged archaeological site preservation in the region, and as data sources that provide information about regional geomorphology, climate conditions, paleogenomics, and species extinctions in the terminal Pleistocene. Furthermore, submerged paleo-deltas, due to their depositional characteristics, are identified to have deeply buried paleosols with significant preservation potential for early human and environmental history. Therefore, the Merrimack River paleo-delta, and similar offshore submerged features elsewhere, serve not only as research opportunities into early human migration and settlement, but are also storehouses of climate and environmental data, which merit special recognition and protection from environmental and man-made activities that may impact or disturb these intact submerged landscapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-298
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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