Summary of the Snowmastodon Project Special Volume. A high-elevation, multi-proxy biotic and environmental record of MIS 6-4 from the Ziegler Reservoir fossil site, Snowmass Village, Colorado, USA

Ian M. Miller, Jeffrey S. Pigati, R. Scott Anderson, Kirk R. Johnson, Shannon A. Mahan, Thomas A. Ager, Richard G. Baker, Maarten Blaauw, Jordon Bright, Peter M. Brown, Bruce Bryant, Zachary T. Calamari, Paul E. Carrara, Michael D. Cherney, John R. Demboski, Scott A. Elias, Daniel C. Fisher, Harrison J. Gray, Danielle R. Haskett, Jeffrey S. HonkeStephen T. Jackson, Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno, Douglas Kline, Eric M. Leonard, Nathaniel A. Lifton, Carol Lucking, H. Gregory McDonald, Dane M. Miller, Daniel R. Muhs, Stephen E. Nash, Cody Newton, James B. Paces, Lesley Petrie, Mitchell A. Plummer, David F. Porinchu, Adam N. Rountrey, Eric M. Scott, Joseph J.W. Sertich, Saxon E. Sharpe, Gary L. Skipp, Laura E. Strickland, Richard K. Stucky, Robert S. Thompson, Jim Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In North America, terrestrial records of biodiversity and climate change that span Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 are rare. Where found, they provide insight into how the coupling of the ocean-atmosphere system is manifested in biotic and environmental records and how the biosphere responds to climate change. In 2010-2011, construction at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado (USA) revealed a nearly continuous, lacustrine/wetland sedimentary sequence that preserved evidence of past plant communities between ~. 140 and 55. ka, including all of MIS 5. At an elevation of 2705. m, the Ziegler Reservoir fossil site also contained thousands of well-preserved bones of late Pleistocene megafauna, including mastodons, mammoths, ground sloths, horses, camels, deer, bison, black bear, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. In addition, the site contained more than 26,000 bones from at least 30 species of small animals including salamanders, otters, muskrats, minks, rabbits, beavers, frogs, lizards, snakes, fish, and birds. The combination of macro- and micro-vertebrates, invertebrates, terrestrial and aquatic plant macrofossils, a detailed pollen record, and a robust, directly dated stratigraphic framework shows that high-elevation ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado are climatically sensitive and varied dramatically throughout MIS 5.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-634
Number of pages17
JournalQuaternary Research (United States)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS), President and CEO George Sparks, and the DMNS Board of Trustees for supporting the project. This project would not have been possible without the dedication and countless hours logged by DMNS staff, volunteers, and interns. Special thanks are due to the Gould and Hudick construction companies for their assistance during excavations. Similarly, the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District provided invaluable support. Preparation of specimens was conducted by the many dedicated volunteers in the DMNS Schlessman Family Earth Sciences Laboratory. The National Geographic Society , National Science Foundation , U.S. Geological Survey's Climate and Land Use Research and Development Program , and many generous private donors provided the necessary funding to support the project. A full list of all of those that contributed to the project can be found in Johnson and Miller (2012) . Finally, this manuscript benefited from the constructive reviews from Marith Reheis and Harland Goldstein, both USGS (Denver). Any use of trade, product, or firm names in this website or publication is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 University of Washington.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Mammut americanum
  • Mammuthus columbi
  • Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage
  • Paleoclimate
  • Pleistocene megafauna
  • Rocky Mountains
  • Sangamon interglacial
  • Ziegler Reservoir


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