Main Menu   Sites

Ceremonial Cave

TX: El Paso Co.


Location of Ceremonial Cave.Age. Wisconsin. Although the Pleistocene material is undated, a Wisconsin age is assumed.

General Description. Hueco Mountains. The cave entrance in 1995 is pictured at Texas Beyond History: Ceremonial Cave Main and a feel for the area at Texas Beyond History: Site Discovery.

Discussion. Ceremonial Cave is primarily an archaeological site; a few Pleistocene fossils were recovered in the course of excavation for human artifacts.

Cosgrove (1947) reported several probable or certain Pleistocene taxa from Ceremonial Cave. Tortoise was listed, and this presumably would be Gopherus; it's possible, however, that the common name was applied to Terrapene. The condor specimen is an unmineralized ulna. The camel material (two unmineralized basal phalanges) was listed by Cosgrove (p. 45) as "Extinct camel (Procamelus) One supposed to have lived into fairly modern times." Presumably either Hemiauchenia or Camelops is represented.Ceremonial Cave entrance

Creel (1997) summarized the archaeological and paleontological history for the site, noting Sayles (1935) report of Tetrameryx in a supposedly undisturbed hearth level. Originally, Stockoceros was considered a subgenus of Tetrameryx; in our context, likely the taxon is Stockoceros and, according to the taxonomic treatment adopted here, presumably S. conklingi.

Fig. 1. Ceremonial Cave. Probably sometime in the first half of the 20th century. John Green Collection, courtesy of Richard D. Worthington.


Gymnogyps californianus—California Condor (Cosgrove 1947)
Equus ? fraternus—Fraternal Horse (Cosgrove 1947)
Camel—Camel (Cosgrove 1947)
Stockoceros conklingi—Conkling's Pronghorn (Sayles 1935, as Tetrameryx).

Literature. Cosgrove 1947; Creel 1997; Harris 1985a; Sayles 1935.


Last Update: 24 Oct 2013