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Whut Cave

NM: Cibola Co., NE ¼ SE ¼ SEC. 10, T6N, R5W; 2030 m.


Location of Whut Cave.Age—Late Pleistocene.

General Description. Smartt and Hafner (1989): The location is at the north end of Mesa del Oro, one of many caves of the Pronoun Cave Complex. The mesa is of early Pleistocene travertine deposits; most caves are partially closed fissures formed by settling of the travertine blocks. Whut Cave extends ca. 100 m WNW and ca. 50 m ESE of present entrance. The present entrance is vertical, dropping ca. 4.5 m to a ledge and then ca. 4.5 m more to relatively level floor.

Discussion. Smartt and Hafner (1989): The fossil fauna was excavated in 23 4-cm levels from a 1-m2 pit about 30 m west of the present entrance chimney. The fauna apparently was deposited through a now-filled chimney above the excavation site. Excavations were done between 1984 and 1986.

The molluscan and arvicoline fauna is listed by level in Smartt and Hafner (1989) and includes an extensive gastropod fauna consisting of species generally in higher or wetter environments—none (other than probably Succinea) appears to be living in the vicinity now. As a general trend, Microtus tends to dominate in the lower levels and Lemmiscus to dominate the upper levels. "Both the microtine and snail fauna suggest the same basic pattern of a cool mesic environment with many boreal faunal and floral elements from level 23 through level 19; then a shift to cool, drier conditions through the higher levels" (Smartt and Hafner 1987: 284). This contrasts with today's present vegetation of sparse piñon-juniper woodland.


Microtus montanus—Montane Vole (Smartt and Hafner 1989) (cf.)
Lemmiscus curtatus—Sagebrush Vole (Smartt and Hafner 1989)

Literature. Smartt and Hafner 1989.


Last Update: 2 Nov 2008