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Hermits Cave

NM: Eddy Co.: Sec. 6, T24S R21E, est. 1600 m.


Location of Hermits Cave.Age. Late Wisconsin. 12,900 ± 350 on charcoal from hearth (W-495); 11,850 ± 350 (W-498) on log from extinct mammal horizons (W-498); 12,270 ± 450 (W-499) on a log from the mouth of cave (Schultz 1968).

General Description. Cave on the eastern slope of the Guadalupe Mountains, Last Chance Canyon.

Discussion. Findley (1965) identified three species of Sorex from Hermits Cave. One of these was identified as S. vagrans, but Findley noted that the subspecies that now occurs nearest to Hermits Cave (S. v. neomexicanus) is not the subspecies that is the closest morphologically to the fossils, which are more similar to (or perhaps intermediate to) the subspecies S. v. obscurus and S. v. monticolus. Name changes since Findley's paper result in the taxon currently nearest to Hermits Cave now being known as S. neomexicanus, and the other two subspecies are now recognized as members of S. monticolus.

Twenty-nine specimens of "vagrans," 21 of nanus, but only one of Notiosorex, were identified. S. neomexicanus and S. nanusare now found together in a number of ranges in New Mexico, usually in relatively mesic forests of fir (Abies concolor), Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga taxifolia), Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), Gambel's Oak (Quercus gambeli), and Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides).

The shrew material comes from the pre-Basketmaker level of Hermit Cave (Findley (1965). Carraway (Harris and Carraway 1993) reexamined the Sorex nanus material and confirmed the S. nanus identifications.

Carraway (2010) studied a large number of fossil Notiosorex and concluded that all Southwestern Pleistocene fossils examined belonged to one of two previously undescribed species: N. dalquesti or N. harrisi. The unexamined specimen from Hermit's Cave presumably represents one of these species rather than N. crawfordi as reported by Findley (1965), and the listing here is changed from that species to Notiosorex sp.


Mammuthus columbi—Columbian Mammoth (Nowak 1979)
Marmota sp.—Marmot Schultz et al. 1970
Lemmiscus curtatus—Sagebrush Vole (Harris ID)
Microtus pennsylvanicus—Meadow Vole (Harris 1993c)
Neotoma cinerea—Bushy-tailed Woodrat (Harris ID)
Notiosorex sp.—Notiosorex Shrew (Findley 1965)
Sorex neomexicanus—New Mexico Shrew (Findley 1965)
Sorex nanus—Dwarf Shrew (Findley 1965)
Canis dirus—Dire Wolf (Nowak 1979)
Canis lupus—Gray Wolf (Nowak 1979)
Equus sp.—Horse (Nowak 1979)
Navahoceros fricki—Mountain Deer (Schultz et al. 1970; Nowak 1979)

Literature. Carraway 2010; Ferdon 1946; Findley 1965; Harris 1985a; Harris and Carraway 1993; Nowak 1979; Schultz 1968; Schultz et al. 1970.


Last Update: 17 Jul 2010