Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000 Page: 79
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The Ice Age Megafauna of Colorado County, Texas
Indeed, in the millennia leading up to the termination of the Pleistocene Epoch,
Colorado County was literally overrun with an assortment of bizarre creatures. Although
neither twentieth century people nor their ancestors for hundreds of generations have ever
seen these creatures, we have certain knowledge that they lived here. Their preserved
remains, mostly bones and teeth long buried in our soils, are occasionally exhumed and
studied by paleontologists. Using modern stratigraphic and radiocarbon dating techniques,
these experts obtain accurate estimates of the times and of the specific environments when
the animals represented by these fossils actually lived.'
Giant Creatures Roamed Prairies and Woodlands
Paleontologists know most about the fossil megafauna of the Colorado County
area from receiving for identification preserved specimens of bones and teeth from local
collectors. Many of these interested individuals have been farmers, gravel-pit operators,
road construction workers, and excavators of foundations for houses or other buildings.
Paleontologists owe a debt of gratitude to these persons for their cooperation. By accumu-
lating such numerous records, paleontologists have been able to unravel the history of this
ancient mammalian assemblage.
Colorado County has had a wealth of such fossil finds, most often excavated
from gravel pits, with many being reported in local newspapers. However, few county speci-
mens, some of which are preserved in the collections of the Vertebrate Paleontology Labo-
ratory of the University of Texas at Austin, thus far have been submitted for positive identi-
fication by the experts.6
Consequently, to determine the supposed array of extinct Ice Age mammals of
Colorado County requires not only the listing of local finds but also those, as reported in the
scientific literature, from nearby counties on the Texas Gulf Coastal Plain. These published
reports describe fossils representing this megafauna from the Edwards Plateau and central
Texas, and from such specific locations as Austin County, Bee County, Harris County, Kenedy
Austin, Texas, The University of Texas, 1976); D. J. Hafner, "Reinterpretation of the Wisconsinan mammalian
fauna and paleonvironment of the Edwards Plateau, Texas," Journal ofMammalogy, vol. 74, 1993, pp. 162-167;
Martin and Wright, Pleistocene Extinctions: A Search for a Cause.
5 R. L. Carroll, Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution (New York: W. H. Freeman and Company,
1987); Toomey, Blum, and Valastro, "Late Quaternary Climates and Environments of the Edwards Plateau,
6 See for instance specimens catalogued as numbers 41911 (Columbus-Rancholabrean) and 43068
(Columbus South-Rancholabrean) at the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory at the University of Texas at
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000, periodical, July 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151409/m1/15/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.