Quaternary vertebrates from the North Atlantic islands

Ole Bennike, Bernd Wagner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in bookResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Remains of Pleistocene (2.6 million years to 11,700 years ago) vertebrates are rare in the North Atlantic islands, but there are some records from interglacial deposits in Greenland. From the early Pleistocene an extinct rabbit, a hare, a ringed seal and a cod have been reported. From the Middle Pleistocene a Greenland cod otolith and a little auk bone have been found. Finds of ringed seal, Greenland whale, reindeer and collared lemming(?) have been assigned to the last interglacial, the Eemian. A tooth of a polar bear from Iceland is probably 14,000–15,000 years old. Early and early mid-Holocene ( c . 11,700–7000 years ago) vertebrate remains are more common and the fossil fauna includes capelin, cod, stickleback, little auk, Lapland longspur, walrus, ringed seal, narwhal, Greenland whale, wolf, reindeer and arctic hare. By the mid-Holocene, the vertebrate fauna in Greenland was similar to the modern fauna as documented by excavations of archaeological sites. However, the fauna included the great auk that is now extinct. The oldest musk-ox bone from Greenland gave an age of c . 5400 years.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiogeography in the Sub-Arctic
Subtitle of host publicationThe past and future of North Atlantic biota
EditorsEva Panagiotakopulu, Jon P. Sadler
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781118561461
ISBN (Print)9781118561478
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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