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Harris' Pocket, Dry Cave

NM: Eddy Co.: 1280 m.

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Location of the Harris' Pocket site.Age. 14C date of 14,470 ± 250 BP (I-3365) on packrat and other feces.

General Description. UTEP 6. Enlargement in small limestone corridor; one direction leads to the balcony of Balcony Room; the continuation in the other direction is too small to follow, but apparently is the source of the fossil material and probably leads to the foot of the deposits from Bison Sink in the vicinity of UTEP 4.

Discussion. The passageways leading from the current entrance to the fossil deposit are of such nature as to render it unlikely that the fossils were deposited from that direction. Thus the source likely was from the opposite direction, which ultimately would have originated from the now-clogged Bison Sink. The relatively dense occurrence of bone and rodent feces accompanied with only a small mineral component suggests the source was already concentrated. The most likely origin would seem to be a woodrat midden or a rocky slope that had accumulated organic remains over a period of many years, deposited in a single floodwater event. In either case, it is quite possible that the fauna is not strictly contemporaneous. However, the faunal remains represent full-glacial conditions that probably were relatively static during the time of accumulation.

Relative frequencies of occurrence of several taxa give a better picture of the fauna than supplied by the list. Cratogeomys castanops is represented by a single tooth, whereas there are 25 specimens of Thomomys (three identifiable to T. bottae and nine to T. talpoides). There are 21 specimens identified as Neotoma cinerea as opposed to one tentatively identified as N. micropus and one as N. leucodon; furthermore, the latter shows the effect of digestive juices and thus may have been carried in from some distance.

Among the arvicolines, Lemmiscus curtatus (NISP = 33) and Microtus mogollonensis (34) form the bulk of the vole fauna, with 11 Microtus longicaudus, two Microtus ochrogaster, and 1 Microtus pennsylvanicus. Thus the sagebrush grasslands (Lemmiscus curtatus) and relatively arid woodland and forest habitats (Microtus mogollonensis) are well represented, while Microtus longicaudus, with its greater water requirements presumably inhabited the more protected, mesic habitat. Small numbers of Microtus ochrogaster suggest open grassy habitat was relatively rare, and the barely presence M. pennsylvanicus indicates the favored sedge-bed habitat was relatively distant or limited to small suitable patches.

Shrew numbers likewise suggest that the warmer, drier areas were some distance from the site (NISP of Notiosorex = 1), but that the sagebrush grasslands and woodland were the dominant habitat types (Sorex merriami, NISP = 28) about the cave, although somewhat more mesic habitat also occurred nearby (Sorex neomexicanus, 12).

Fauna.

AMPHIBIA

Ambystoma mavortium—Barred Tiger Salamander (Holman 1970)
Spea bombifrons—Plains Spadefoot (Holman 1970)
Anaxyrus woodhousii woodhousii—Woodhouse's Toad (Holman 1970)
Pseudacris triseriata—Western Chorus Frog (Holman 1970)

REPTILIA

Phrynosoma hernandesi—Mountain Short-horned Lizard (Holman 1970)
Sceloporus cowlesi—Southern Plateau Lizard (Holman 1970)
Salvadora sp.—Patch-nose Snakes (Holman 1970)
Thamnophis sp.—Garter Snakes (Holman 1970)
Crotalus sp.—Rattlesnakes (Holman 1970)

AVES

Tympanuchus—Prairie-chicken (UTEP) (Cf.)
Caracara cheriway—Crested Caracara (Harris 1989)
Charadrius vociferus—Killdeer (Harris 1989)
Numenius americanus—Long-billed Curlew (Harris 1989)
Bubo virginianus—Great Horned Owl (UTEP)
Eremophila alpestris— (Harris 1989)
Sialia sp.—Bluebird (Harris 1989)
Catharus sp.—Thrushes (Harris 1989: as C. swainsoni)
Lanius ludovicianus—Loggerhead Shrike (Harris 1989)
Cardinalis sp.—Cardinal or Pyrrhuloxia (UTEP)
Agelaius phoeniceus—Red-winged Blackbird (Harris 1989)
Sturnella sp.—Meadowlark (Harris 1989)
Icterus sp.—American Orioles (Harris 1993c)
Quiscalus sp.—Grackles (Harris 1993c)
Carpodacus sp.—Purple Finches (Harris 1989)

MAMMALIA

Cynomys (Leucocrossuromys)—White-tailed Prairie Dogs (Harris 1985)
Ictidomys tridecemlineatus—Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel (Harris 1985; UTEP cf.)
Marmota flaviventris—Yellow-bellied Marmot (Harris 1985)
Urocitellus elegans—Wyoming Ground Squirrel (Harris 1985)
Cratogeomys castanops—Yellow-faced Pocket Gopher (UTEP)
Thomomys bottae—Botta's Pocket Gopher (Harris 1985)
Thomomys talpoides—Northern Pocket Gopher (Harris 1985)
Lemmiscus curtatus—Sagebrush Vole (Harris 1985)
Microtus longicaudus—Long-tailed Vole (Harris 1985)
Microtus mogollonensis—Mogollon Vole (Harris 1985)
Microtus ochrogaster—Prairie Vole (Harris 1988)
Microtus pennsylvanicus—Eastern Vole (1993c)
Ondatra zibethicus—Common Muskrat (Harris 1985)
Neotoma cinerea—Bushy-tailed Woodrat (Harris 1985)
Neotoma leucodon—White-toothed Woodrat (Harris 1993c)
Neotoma micropus—Southern Plains Woodrat (Harris 1985) (cf.)
Onychomys leucogaster—Northern Grasshopper Mouse (Harris 1985)
Peromyscus boylii—Brush Mouse (UTEP: cf.)
Peromyscus crinitus—Canyon Mouse (Harris 1985; UTEP)
Peromyscus leucopus—White-footed Mouse (UTEP) Identification Withdrawn
Peromyscus maniculatus—Deer Mouse (Harris 1985; UTEP)
Peromyscus nasutus—Rock Mouse (Harris 1985) (cf.)
Erethizon dorsata—American Porcupine (Harris 1985)
Lepus townsendii—White-tailed Jackrabbit (Harris 1985)
Sylvilagus nuttallii —Mountain Cottontail (Harris 1985)
Notiosorex harrisi—Harris' Shrew (Carraway 2010)
Sorex merriami —Merriam's Shrew (Harris 1985)
Sorex neomexicanus—New Mexican Shrew (Harris 1985)
Corynorhinus townsendii—Townsend's Big-eared Bat (Harris 1993c)
Plecotini Bat—Large bat of Tribe Plecotini
Eptesicus fuscus—Big Brown Bat (Harris 1985)
Lasiurus cinereus—Hoary Bat (Harris 1985) (cf.)
Myotis californicus—California Myotis (Harris 1985) (?)
Myotis evotis—Long-eared Myotis UTEP
Myotis lucifugus—Little Brown Bat ((Harris 1985))
Myotis rectidentis—Straight-tooth Myotis (Harris 1985) (?)
Myotis velifer—Cave Myotis ((Harris 1985))
Canis latrans—Coyote (Harris 1985)
Vulpes velox—Swift Fox (Harris 1985)
Mustela frenata—Long-tailed Weasel (Harris 1985)
Bassariscus astutus—Ringtail (UTEP)
Equus conversidens—Mexican Horse (Harris and Porter 1980)
Equus scotti—Scott's Horse (Harris 1985)
Antilocapra/Stockoceros sp.—Pronghorn or Conkling's Pronghorn (UTEP) (cf.)
Bison sp.—Bison (Harris 1985)

Literature. Carraway 2010; Harris 1970a, 1977, 1985a, 1989, 1993c; Harris and Porter 1980; Holman 1970.

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Last Update: 6 Aug 2013