Mammoths on the Channel Islands: When Did They Get There?

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Date: September 29, 2016
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

During the October From Shore to Sea Lecture, Dr. Daniel Muhs, research geologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), will discuss new discoveries and research into the estimated arrival and evolution of mammoths on the Channel Islands.

Fossil remains of both Columbian mammoths and the pygmy mammoths into which they evolved have been found on San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz Islands in Channel Islands National Park. Just weeks ago, an intact, well-preserved mammoth skull excavated on Santa Rosa Island, has raised new questions about the evolution of mammoth on the Channel Islands.

Muhs will touch on recent mammoth research, including his discovery of a mammoth tusk in 2014 that calls into question whether mammoths arrived on the islands earlier than 20,000 years ago, the time of the last Ice Age. The tusk Muhs found dated to at least 80,000 years ago, which suggests that mammoths may have arrived on the islands as early as 150,000 years ago.

Muhs grew up in Santa Barbara County, California, within sight of the Channel Islands. He earned his B.A. and M.S. degrees at the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. at the University of Colorado, where he studied geomorphology and soils. He has worked at USGS since 1983, mainly studying geologic records of climate change, and is currently working on a project looking at past evidence of high sea levels around the Channel Islands.

The talk will be held on Thursday, October 6, 2016. The From Shore to Sea lecture series is sponsored by Channel Islands National Park to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding marine waters. The 2016 lecture series will take place at 7:00 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month, January through December, at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in Ventura Harbor. This extended schedule is in honor of the National Park Service's milestone centennial anniversary, which celebrates 100 years of national parks. The programs are free and open to the public.

This lecture can also be viewed live online at: https://www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/live-programs.htm.

Lectures are recorded and posted at: https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/photosmultimedia/from-shore-to-sea-lecture-videos.htm 



Last updated: September 29, 2016

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