The Dung Beetles of Snowmastodon

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DMNS Annals 5 published

Digging Snowmastodon has not only uncovered an immense number of bones, teeth, and wood, but also less conspicuous fossils, such as fragments of insects, amongst them...dung beetles. What else could we expect? Mammoth, mastodon, ground sloth, camel, and many other large and small mammals populated the area around Snowmass during the Pleistocene - all prolific poopers. It was a good place for dung beetles, and the Snowmastodon site indeed turned out to be one of the richest Pleistocene dung beetle sites in North America. Nine different species of dung beetle were found. Three of them could be identified as extant species that still live in Colorado. The remaining species did not reveal their identity. Why is this? Pleistocene insects are found as tiny little fragments. With luck we find a complete head or a wingcase, but never a complete insect that shows all characters needed for identification. DMNS curator of entomology, Frank Krell, with the help of Entomology photographer Chris Grinter, figured, described, and interpreted the dung beetle fossils from the Snowmastodon site in the newest issue of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science Annals, hot off the press.

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