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Lower Sloth Cave (C-05)

TX: Culberson Co.

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Location of the Lower Sloth Cave.Age. Late Wisconsin. A radiocarbon date on sloth dung reported by Van Devender et al. (1979) is 11,590 ± 230 (A-1519).

General Description. The cave also is known in the literature as C-05. Description from Logan (1983): Lower Sloth Cave is located in Guadalupe Mountain National Park at an elevation of about 2000 m (given by Logan in an obvious typographical error as "approximately 200 m"). The entrance faces west-northwest at the top of a 60° talus slope. The cave is approximately horizontal, with a total relief of about 7 m.

Discussion. Pollen suggests that the plant communities recorded from around 13,000 BP at Upper Sloth Cave and Dust Cave had given way to more arid, warmer communities, but that spruce had not yet been entirely extirpated regionally, though likely limited to more mesic habitats (Van Devender et al. 1979).

Logan (1983): Six test trenches were excavated, divided into 1-m2 grid divisions. Excavation was by 10-cm levels, but different stratigraphic units within such levels were kept separate. Matrix was dry-screened through 7 mm, 3 mm, and 0.75 mm screens. Correlation between trenches is dubious except between one layer in Trench 1 and a layer in Trench 5.

Recent re-examination of the shrew and woodrat material by myself (Harris and Hearst 2012) placed specimens identified by Logan (1983) as Cryptotis as representing Notiosorex and cf. Sorex. Sorex cinereus is confirmed. Other Sorex identified by Logan as S. vagrans (=S. neomexicanus) include one specimen of S. merriami; the other four specimens may be either S. neomexicanus or S. merriami. Identification of Neotoma cinerea and Neotoma mexicana was confirmed, but the latter was recovered only in the uppermost level.

In a comprehensive study that included Southwestern material, Carraway (2010) found no fossil specimens of Notiosorex crawfordi; the Lower Sloth Cave material was not examined (and almost certainly unidentifiable to species), but presumably does not represent N. crawfordi; Logan's identification is changed to Notiosorex sp.

Fauna.

Aves

Coragyps occidentalis—Western Vulture (Logan 1983)

Mammalia

Nothrotheriops shastensis—Shasta Ground Sloth (Logan 1983)
Cynomys gunnisoni—Gunnison's Prairie Dog (Logan 1983: cf.)
Marmota flaviventris—Yellow-bellied Marmot (Logan 1983)
Sciurus sp.—Tree Squirrel (Logan 1983)
Tamias sp.—Chipmunk (Logan 1983)
Tamiasciurus hudsonicus—Red Squirrel (Logan 1983)
Xerospermophilus spilosoma—Spotted Ground Squirrel (Logan 1983)
Thomomys bottae—Botta's Pocket Gopher (Logan 1983: cf. gen et sp.)
Microtus mogollonensis—Mogollon Vole (Logan 1983)
Neotoma cinerea—Bushy-tailed Woodrat (Logan 1983)
Neotoma leucodon—White-toothed Woodrat (Logan 1983)
Neotoma mexicanus—Mexican Woodrat (Logan 1983; confirmed, Harris, this work, 5 Apr 2010)
Neotoma micropus—Southern Plains Woodrat (Logan 1983)
Onychomys arenicola—Mearn's Grasshopper Mouse (Logan 1983)
Onychomys leucogaster—Northern Pocket Gopher (Logan 1983)
Erethizon dorsata—American Porcupine (Logan 1983)
Sylvilagus sp. Cottontail (Logan 1983)
Cryptotis parva—Least Shrew (Logan 1983); rejected (Harris, this work, 5 Apr 2010)
Notiosorex sp.—Notiosorex Shrew (Logan 1983 as N. crawfordi)
Sorex cinereus—Masked Shrew (Logan 1983)
Sorex merriami—Merriam's Shrew (Harris and Hearst 2012)
Sorex neomexicanus—New Mexico Shrew (Logan 1983); possibly present, but not confirmed (Harris and Hearst 2012)
Tadarida brasiliensis—Brazilian Free-tailed Bat (Logan 1983)
Corynorhinus townsendii—Townsend's Big-eared Bat (Logan 1983)
Eptesicus fuscus—Big Brown Bat (Logan 1983)
Myotis sp. (Small)—Small Myotis (Logan 1983)
Myotis ciliolabrum—Western Small-footed Myotis (Logan 1983)
Myotis velifer—Cave Myotis (Logan 1983)
Myotis thysanodes—Fringed Myotis (Logan 1983)
Canis sp. (large)—Wolf-sized Canis (Logan 1983)
Mustela frenata—Long-tailed Weasel (Logan 1983)
Spilogale gracilis—Western Spotted Skunk (Logan 1983)
Odocoileus sp.—Deer (Logan 1983)
Ovis canadensis—Bighorn Sheep (Logan 1983)
Ovis canadensis catclawensis—Cat-claw Bighorn Sheep (Logan 1983)

Literature. Carraway 2010; Harris and Hearst 2012; Logan 1983.

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Last Update: 5 Jul 2012