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Finding Dung on Prehistoric and Historic Landscapes: Sporormiella in the Pollen Record

Author(s): R. A. Varney ; Linda Scott Cummings

Year: 2017

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Dung fungal spores (Sporormiella) live on grazing animal dung and comprise part of the pollen record in landscape studies. Coprophilous fungi such as Sporormiella rely on a cyclic process involving herbivore ingestion of spores with foliage; germination of spores following passage through the gut; and mycelial growth within, and eventual sporulation on the surface of drying dung. Often their recovery in stratigraphic profiles is interpreted to represent megafaunal presence, thus enhancing landscape use discussions to include grazing fauna. Stratigraphic records from the American Great Plains beginning with a site in Oklahoma (21,000 BP), then moving to other locations examine faunal presence from the late Pleistocene and early Holocene until modern times. Recovery of dung fungal spores on groundstone suggests processing animal entrails. At the recent end of the time spectrum, dung fungal spores recovered from historic Iowa privies from neighboring properties suggest keeping livestock on some properties.

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Finding Dung on Prehistoric and Historic Landscapes: Sporormiella in the Pollen Record. R. A. Varney, Linda Scott Cummings. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429993)


Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15391

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America