Paleoethological Reconstruction and Taphonomy of <i>Equus lambei</i> from the Bluefish Caves, Yukon Territory, Canada

  • A. Burke
  • J. Cinq-Mars
Keywords: Equus lambei, Bluefish Caves, full/late glacial, eastern Beringia, paleoethology, incremental analysis, tooth height/age tables


The Bluefish Caves, northern Yukon, Canada, have yielded evidence of pre-Holocene human occupation of eastern Beringia. The three caves at Bluefish contain a large and complex late Pleistocene fauna in situ. Our research on the mortality patterns and the paleoethology of Equus lambei (an extinct species of horse), a dominant component of the Bluefish assemblages, was based on the dental remains. Mortality profiles for Equus lambei indicate that predators were the likely primary agents of bone accumulation at Cave I, while Caves II and III appear to have accumulated bones through accidental or natural deaths, probably regularly monitored by humans and other predator/scavengers. Paleoethological reconstruction for E. lambei, supports the suggestion the Bluefish Basin was not a polar desert during the late Pleistocene. Finally, the use of tooth height/age tables to establish age profiles of fossil equid populations is demonstrated to be limited to establishing broad, relative age categories.