The Holocene fossil marine macrofauna of the Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica


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The Holocene (< 10,000 years old) fossil marine macrofauna (molluscs, polychaetes, mammals and birds) of the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica (68°30'S, 78°00'E) is described. All species are extant, with circumantarctic or wider distributions and wide depth ranges. At Heidemann Bay, Pleistocene‐age (> 30 ky old) shell fragments occur in a Holocene moraine. These are interpreted as being glacially reworked fossil shells. Holocene benthic estuarine and coastal molluses and serpulid worm tubes are abundant on the flanks of terraces above saline and hypersaline lakes. Extensive radiocarbon dating gives a chronology of these deposits which were not synchronous. Mummies of seals and penguins, which are concentrated on the shores of the saline lakes and scattered across the Hills, are of no use in dating geomorphological events. Marine fossils in moraines are difficult to interpret because they can be glacially‐transported live or fossil shells, or deposited after wind transport. The fossil fauna has such a wide ecological range that it indicates only in general terms that for part of the Pleistocene and most of the Holocene, climatic conditions were broadly similar to the present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-202
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1985


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