Our analyses show that pristine shells are consistently representative of modern individuals, whereas shells from higher taphonomic grades are not derived from distinct time intervals. Among the higher grade shells, some are very recent, some are likely to be mid-Holocene in age, and others could be as old as late Pleistocene. Radiocarbon analysis, in progress, will be used to refine the time range represented. Our results indicate that 1) surficial deposits of benthic mollusks have undergone substantial reworking and time averaging 2) shallow shell beds on the west coast Florida shelf are not consistently stratified into time-constrained groups and 3) though mostly characterized by late Holocene to modern shells, the shelf surface may include individuals dating as far back as the last interglacial high stand.
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