Direct dating of Pleistocene stegodon from Timor Island, East Nusa Tenggara
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Stegodons are a commonly recovered extinct proboscidean (elephants and allies) from the Pleistocene record of Southeast Asian oceanic islands. Estimates on when stegodons arrived on individual islands and the timings of their extinctions are poorly constrained due to few reported direct geochronological analyses of their remains. Here we report on uranium-series dating of a stegodon tusk recovered from the Ainaro Gravels of Timor. The six dates obtained indicate the local presence of stegodons in Timor at or before 130 ka, significantly pre-dating the earliest evidence of humans on the island. On the basis of current data, we find no evidence for significant environmental changes or the presence of modern humans in the region during that time. Thus, we do not consider either of these factors to have contributed significantly to their extinction. In the absence of these, we propose that their extinction was possibly the result of long-term demographic and genetic declines associated with an isolated island population.
© 2016 Louys et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Archaeology not elsewhere classified