Fieldwork Travelogue: The Mummified Fauna of Natural Trap Cave #NTCave15

Though it was nearly two weeks ago that I left Natural Trap Cave, there are still things I’d like to post about it.

One of the fascinating things about the cave is that it is, in fact, a natural trap. Though there is a grate over the top preventing large animals from falling in, small animals still drop in regularly.

Case in point: Packy le Pew, a poor packrat that fell in during the field season in 2014.

Packy was moved out of the way and protected by a little wire cage.

Now he’s an experiment in taphonomy: how long does it take for something that falls into the cave to become de-fleshed and buried?

One year later, Packy le Pew is a little dessicated, but not too much worse for wear.

One year later, Packy le Pew is a little dessicated, but not too much worse for wear.

Packy le Pew isn’t the only dessicated animal remains to be found in the cave.

We have a couple of birds

Poor bluebird.

Poor bluebird.

Occasional mice

Look at his poofy tail!

Look at his poofy tail!

A bunny

Those fuzzy rabbit's feet didn't help much.

Those fuzzy rabbit’s feet didn’t help much.

And snakes (why’d it have to be snakes?)

It's an 'S' for 'hisssssssssss'

It’s an ‘S’ for ‘hisssssssssss’

A rattlesnake. Delightful.

A rattlesnake. Delightful.

Not everything that falls in dies. Last year, a mouse fell in and was rescued and brought back to the surface by the crew.

And somehow, there also appears to be a population of mice and rats still living in the cave, making us suspect strongly that there are other entrances too small for humans to get in.

We had a fuzzy visitor in the cave today. Apparently, the cave does support a small population of cute fuzzies.

We had a fuzzy visitor in the cave today. Apparently, the cave does support a small population of cute fuzzies.

Who knows what else we’ll find next year.

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About Penny

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

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