Holocene animal tracks from the intertidal zone in the west of Ireland

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During the winter storms of 2019, a deposit of organic-rich clay was fortuitously exposed in the intertidal zone of a beach near Streedagh (Co. Sligo). Impressed in the clay surface were a series of small (<10cm) paired indentations arranged in rough alignments. Their size and shape suggest that they are animal tracks; possibly red deer but not excluding sheep/goat. Animal tracks in Holocene sediments are well-documented from intertidal contexts in Great Britain but, to date, none have been reported from Ireland. This paper describes these tracks and discusses their chronological and paleoenvironmental context. Radiocarbon dating of the clay surface places it between ~7300–6300 cal BP, though for taphonomic reasons the tracks are argued to have been made later in the Holocene: probably after 5800 and before 4000 cal BP As such, the deposit provides an example of palaeoenvironmental evidence, that can be found even under the high-energy conditions characteristic of the Irish coast, and hints at the possibility that Holocene ichnological evidence can also be found here.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberNumber 1
Pages (from-to)25-37
Number of pages13
JournalBiology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy
Early online date28 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 28 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Prof. Ian Montgomery for his assistance with species identification, Dr Louise Callard for the assessment of palaeoenvironmental potential, David Rogers for processing the GPS data and Prof. Graeme Warren for his thoughts on Neolithic and Mesolithic fauna. Support for radiocarbon dating was provided by an Irish Quaternary Association (IQUA) Research Award. Finally we thank two reviewers for their thorough work and excel-lent suggestions on formation processes, dating and ichno-identification.

Publisher Copyright:
© Royal Irish Academy.


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