Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Blaine Schubert

Committee Members

Josh Samuels, Andrew Joyner, Chris Widga


Big Bone Lick (BBL) is a late Pleistocene and Holocene fossil locality in the Ohio River valley of Kentucky. This study utilized stable isotopes (δ13C, δ18O, and 87Sr/86Sr) in tooth enamel to reconstruct mobility and diet in Bison, as well as diet in Bootherium bombifrons. Isotopic results from seven Bison and two B. bombifrons are reported. Results suggest Pleistocene Bison and Bootherium occupied different dietary niches. Although both had C3-dominated diets, Bison occupied more open environments than B. bombifrons. Two bison from the late Holocene deposit had diets that consisted of more C3 vegetation than Pleistocene bison, which may indicate these individuals occupied a closed C3 landscape. However, one specimen previously identified as late Holocene had diet and mobility patterns consistent with Pleistocene bison, which could indicate temporal mixing. Pleistocene and Holocene Bison have 87Sr/86Sr values that suggest they spent most of their time in places other than BBL.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Paleontology Commons