Polar Record


New dates of musk-ox (Ovibos moschatus) remains from northwest Greenland

Ole Bennike a1 and Claus Andreasen a2
a1 Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark (obe@geus.dk)
a2 Greenland National Museum and Archives, PO Box 145, DK-3900 Nuuk, Greenland (claus.andreasen@natmus.gl)

Article author query
bennike o   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
andreasen c   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Northwest Greenland formerly supported a population of musk-ox (Ovibos moschatus). Radiocarbon dating of musk-ox remains collected on the terrain surface and from archaeological sites has yielded Late Holocene ages, indicating that the species was a late immigrant to this part of Greenland. Musk-ox arrived at a time when Greenland was uninhabited, and the species had at least several hundred years to expand and spread south, before the Late Dorset people arrived and began to hunt. The main reason that the species did not disperse south to West Greenland was probably because of the barrier presented by Melville Bugt, which was heavily glaciated in the Late Holocene. However, if there had been a longer period of time before hunting of the musk-ox occurred, there would have been an enhanced likelihood that chance dispersal south could have taken place.

(Received August 2004)