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Williams Cave

TX: CULBERSON CO.: 1500 m.

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Location of Williams Cave.Age. Late Wisconsin/Holocene. Faunal material presumably is mixed Holocene and Wisconsin. Date from a packrat midden left adhered to the cave wall (Van Devender et al. 1977) is 12,040 ± 210 (A-1540).

General Description. The fauna was reported by Ayer (1936) who described the cave situation as at the southern end of the Guadalupe Mountains about 200 ft above the canyon floor and facing east. The elevation is given as about 4900 ft (Van Devender et al. give it as 5000 m). The dimensions are a width of about 40 ft at the front, and the depth is about 48 ft. A partition of rock from the rear wall separates the back 13 ft or so into two lobes that originally were filled with deposits.

Discussion. According to Ayer (1936), the cave had been heavily pot-hunted by the time of the excavations, with most of the top 3 ft dug away except in small areas. There was no indication of human occupation below 3 ft from the original surface. Most archaeological material was removed in the 1934 season and the mammal bones in 1935. However, a trench dug in 1934 to a depth of 7 feet uncovered a large pine log and dung of Nothrotheriops. Bones apparently associated with the archaeological material are listed in the general faunal list, so that both Holocene and Pleistocene materials are mixed together without comment (as judged by comments of Ayer 1936). Canis cf. dirus, Equus, Ovis, and Felis were associated with one another at a depth of 4 ft. Ayer (1936) identified many taxa to subspecies; these have not been noted in the faunal list.

Van Devender et al. (1977) recorded plant species from the packrat midden noted above: included are Colorado Pinyon (Pinus edulis), juniper (Juniperus, Netleaf Hackberry (Celtis reticulata), Oak (Quercus), and New Mexican Locust (Robinia neomexicana). The present vegetation is very different and is typical Chihuahuan Desert vegetation, including Creosotebush (Larrea tridentata), Skeleton-leaf Golden-eye (Viguiera stenoloba), and Lechuguilla (Agave lechuguilla).

Fauna.

REPTILIA

Iguanidae Lizard—Lizard (Ayer 1936)

AVES

Meleagris gallopavo—Wild Turkey (Ayer 1936: cf.)

MAMMALIA

Nothrotheriops shastensis—Shasta Ground Sloth (Ayer 1936)
Cynomys gunnisoni—Gunnison's Prairie Dog (Ayer 1936: cf.)
Otospermophilus variegatus—Rock Squirrel (Ayer 1936)
Chaetodipus intermedius—Rock Pocket Mouse (Ayer 1936: cf.)
Cratogeomys castanops—Yellow-faced Pocket Gopher (Ayer 1936)
Neotoma leucodon—White-toothed Woodrat (Ayer 1936)
Erethizon dorsatum—American Porcupine (Ayer 1936)
Sylvilagus audubonii—Desert Cottontail (Ayer 1936: cf.) (ID confirmed, Harris)
Lepus californicus—Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Ayer 1936)
Puma concolor—Mountain Lion (Ayer 1936)
Lynx rufus—Bobcat (Ayer 1936: cf.)
Canis dirus—Dire Wolf (Ayer 1936: cf.)
Urocyon cinereoargenteus—Gray Fox (Ayer 1936)
Ursus arctos—Brown Bear (Ayer 1936: cf. gen. et sp.)
Equus conversidens—Mexican Horse (Ayer 1936)

Equus cf. semiplicatus; present ID by Harris)

Cervus elaphus— (Ayer 1936) (cf. gen. et sp.)
Odocoileus hemionus—Mule Deer (Ayer 1936)
Odocoileus virginianus—White-tailed Deer (Ayer 1936)
Antilocapra americana—Pronghorn (Ayer 1936)
Ovis canadensis—Bighorn Sheep (Ayer 1936)

Literature. Ayer 1936; Van Devender et al. 1977

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Last Update: 3 May 2009