Radiocarbon dating of plant remnants in Quaternary sediments at Starunia palaeontological site and vicinity (Carpathian region, Ukraine)

Tadeusz Kuc, Kazimierz Różański, Tomasz Goslar, Renata Stachowicz-Rybka

Abstract


Radiocarbon dating applied on several occasions in the past to date animal bones and animal soft tissue originating from the area of the Starunia palaeontological site turned out to be very controversial. Although investigations of Pleistocene flora in the Starunia area go back to the beginning of the 20th century, no published 14C dates of such material are available to date. Sixteen boreholes drilled in the area of the Pleistocene mammals discoveries, in the framework of a multidisciplinary research project (2006-2009), have been selected for radiocarbon dating of plant macrofossils. Moreover, five samples of plant remnants extracted from two outcrops in the area were 14C-dated. The nature of the dated plant material, in some cases soaked with oil, posed specific methodological problems. Although applied chemical treatment of macrofossil samples led to complete removal of contaminating hydrocarbons in the case of small pieces, some ageing effects in terms of radiocarbon dating cannot be completely ruled out. Radiocarbon ages of macrofossil samples originating from the close neighbourhood of the location, where the "second" woolly rhinoceros was found at a depth of 12.5 m, suggest that the minimum age of sediments in which the Pleistocene mammals were found is in the range of ca. 35-40 ka BP. A broad consistency between palynological reconstruction of Younger Dryas/Preboreal boundary and the corresponding radiocarbon ages of macrofossils is observed for locations, where the natural sedimentary sequence for late Glacial and early Holocene was not disturbed by extensive mining activity in the area.

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