Bulletin of the National Speleological Society - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 29 Number 3: 119-147 - October 1967

A publication of the National Speleological Society

A Recent Cave Bone Deposit in Southwestern Illinois
Paul W. Parmalee


A large bone deposit in Meyer Cave fissure, located in the Mississippi River bluff in Monroe County, Illinois, was removed during periodic excavations in 1959, 1960 and 1961. Approximately one quarter of a million vertebrate remains were taken from this fissure that had functioned as a den site and natural death trap for animals since early post-glacial times. At least 115 species of vertebrates representing a minimum of 12,400 individuals, and 27 species of invertebrates (mollusks and insects), were identified. The deposit was not stratified, but recovery of elements of boreal or northern species (e.g. pigmy shrew, least weasel, red-backed and yellow-cheeked voles, porcupine) suggested a period of cool and moist climate, probably during the early post-Pleistocene (ca. 10,00 - 8,000 BC). The presence of spotted skunk and wood rat reflected a later period of a warm and dry environment (ca. 4,000 - 1,000 BC). Except for passenger pigeon, no remains of extinct species were recovered.

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