Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title



The Late Pleistocene fossil locality, Clark Quarry, was discovered in 2001 along the Brunswick Canal in Glynn County, Georgia. Since its discovery, excavations have yielded a variety of fossils representing 15 genera of amphibians, snakes, and lizards, 12 species of mammals, and 12 genera of birds. This collection of paleofauna is significant as it adds to our understanding of Georgia’s Late Pleistocene environmental conditions and biodiversity roughly 60,000 years ago. This study documents the turtle fauna from the locality. Turtles are non-migratory and therefore serve as reliable paleo-environmental indicators. Turtle fossils were collected in three ways: direct excavation at the quarry, wet screen washing, and dry sorting of concentrated quarry sediments. Taxa were identified based on comparison to modern specimens and literature descriptions. Identified species include the extinct Giant Land Tortoise, extinct Dwarf Land Tortoise, Musk Turtle, Pond Slider, River Cooter, Eastern Box Turtle, Diamondback Terrapin, Softshell Turtle, Common Snapper, and Chicken Turtle. These taxa suggest a dynamic environment containing several different habitats not significantly different from contemporary environments along the modern southeastern coastal plain. The tortoises and Eastern Box Turtle suggest an open, forested grassland environment. The modern distribution of the Diamondback Terrapin extends inland from the barrier islands to the farthest reaches of brackish water. Modern representatives of the other taxa occur in or at the edge of aquatic environments across Georgia’s coastal plain. As a whole, the turtle fauna suggests an environment similar to the one found today in Southeast Georgia with perhaps more open woodlands. This interpretation is reasonable in light of the reported occurrence of the Giant Bison and Columbian Mammoth from the same locality.

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