26 August 2007

DryBone Cave was Bone Dry, Yet Other Interesting Things Were Afoot

DAY 4 (23 August 2007)

I spent last night in a hotel in St. George, UT. Kyle returned home to get in some quality time with his wife and kids. Whenever one is out in the field, one always looks forward to a quite nice hot shower. While I was only in the field for a few days, the pleasure derived from a hot shower was not even slightly diminished.

We returned to the field by around lunchtime. Our tasks for today were to collect traps from DryBone Cave and deploy the ANABAT detector at Lizard Cave. These tasks were accomplished in short order.

Unfortunately, DryBone Cave was indeed dry as a bone faunistically. We did not observe one arthropod around our traps prior to pulling them, and of the 12 traps deployed for a period of four days, we captured only eight cave cricket nymphs. We did not capture or observe any adults. We did not collect any specimens from this cave because nymphs cannot be identified to species. We need adults to for identifications – preferably males.

What we did learn from this exercise is: (1) my hunch about not finding any arthropods was correct – so perhaps I’m developing an ability to somewhat interpret the ecology before actually sampling, and (2) removing traps from caves without critters takes no time at all!

Having completed task one and with plenty of time left in the day, we decided to explore this cave a little. There have been several significant prehistoric artifacts collected from this cave by Kyle and an archaeologist. One complete pot and a basket were among the artifacts collected. While exploring this cave, we also discovered another basket. This basket will be removed at a later date by the archaeologist and stored in a climate-controlled facility to insure curation in perpetuity.

I'm not certain exactly what this is -- if anything. The possible digging stick may have been intentionally placed within this elongated chamber to signify some sort of fertility totem. Or...it may mean absolutely nothing. As with many things found in archaeology, this is completely open to interpretation.

In a small room I initially identified as a possible bear den. We later determined it was either a bobcat or fox den. The image provided here shows the scat of a small predator. Note the hair within the scat.

Once our work at DryBone was complete we left for Lizard Cave. We deployed the ANABAT detector, and then headed to the camp site for the night.

While I was getting ready to turn in for the evening and do some reading, Kyle wandered off to a cattle tank about 100 meters from camp. He decided to search for salamanders along its banks. He returned with a rather odd looking critter known as a Triops and commonly known as tadpole shrimp or shield shrimp. Thanks to my good buddy, Justin Henningsen, for identifying the Triops for me.

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