The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

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pdf 08. A late pleistocene herpetofauna from Bell Cave, Alabama

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Open Access

pp.521 -529

Authors: .J . Allen Holman, Gordon Bell and James Lamb

Abstract: Three stratigraphic units in Bell Cave. north western Alabama. have yielded fossil herpetofaunas that are mainly analogues of the modern ones in the area . Two oft he fossiliferous zones have been dated by the Carbon 14 method: Zone l /2 at 1 1 .820 +480 to -500 BP and Zone 4 at 26.500 +870 to -990 BP. An intermediate unit (Zone 3) did not yield a Carbon 14 date, but is fa unistically nearly identical to Zone 1 /2. Excessive damage was present in many of the fossils due to predators and gnawing scavengers. thus only 18 per cent of the 3.953 herpetological fossils could be identified to the generic or to the specific level. The wide variety of habitats represented by the fossils (small, clear streams: larger. slower streams: marshy wetlands: waterfalls and associated talus seeps; woodlands and woodland edges) is attributed to transportation by palaeopredators. None of the amphibian or reptile species is extinct, in contrast to the mammalian fauna which has several extinct taxa. Zone 1 /2 has at least 24 species, including one northern and two slightly eastern extralimital ones. Zone 3 has at least 24 species, including the same three extra limital species that occur in Zone 1 /2. Zone 4 has 13 species, including only two slightly eastern extralimital ones. It is difficult on the herpetological remains to suggest a palaeoclimate much different from the climate of the area today. Certainly, the presence of many egg-laying turtles, lizards and snakes in all units negates a tundra-like or boreal-like interpretation of the palaeoclimate.

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