The Pleistocene epoch
lasted from about 1.8 million years ago until 10,000 years ago. In 1967, Richard Wilson
(.pdf) reported on the remains of 53 species of vertebrates (11 fish, 4 reptiles, 3 birds, and 35 mammals) that were present in what is now Michigan shortly after the end of the last Ice Age about 14,000 years ago.
Of the 7 Pleistocene species (all mammals) recorded from Berrien County
, 4 are now extinct, 1 is extirpated from the county, and 1 remains extant; these 7 species represent 3 orders, 5 families, and 7 genera:ORDER RODENTIA
Family Castoridae:ORDER PROPOCIDAE
Castoroides ohioensis, Giant Beaver – Extinct since about 10,000 years ago.
Family Mammuthidae:Mammut americanum, American Mastodon – Remains were found about 4 feet below the surface, directly above a layer of gravel and clay, in May 1964 in Lincoln Township; Extinct since about 11,000 years ago.ORDER ARTIODACTYLA
Mammuthus jeffersoni, Jefferson’s Mammoth – A right upper third molar was found in a gravel layer nearly 100 feet below the surface near Watervliet in 1961, and a nearly complete skeleton was discovered in Eau Clair; Extinct since about 11,000 years ago.
:Cervus canadensis, Elk – A lower third premolar was collected in 1949; and antler, skull, and radius fragments were dredged from sediments at the mouth of the St. Joseph River in 1957; Extirpated from Berrien County.
Odocoileus virginianus, White-tailed Deer – A skull fragment was collected from a soil horizon about 8 miles south of St. Joseph in 1941, and portions of a skeleton were dredged from the mouth of the St. Joseph River in 1957; Extant and thriving.
Cervalces scotti, Stag-Moose – Part of an antler was found at an undisclosed location; Extinct since about 11,500 years ago.
Bootherium bombifrons (=Symbos cavifrons), Woodland Muskoxen – A vertebra was discovered one foot below the surface atop a 60-foot bluff along the St. Joseph River at the corner of Hill Crest Drive and Kimber Lane in Berrien Springs; Extinct since about 11,500 years ago.