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.
I didn’t write yesterday, because it was such a full day. Because today was full of driving and otherwise really dull, I’ll fill you in now on what kept me so busy yesterday.
I hadn’t planned on going back into the cave yesterday, but suddenly we were short-handed and there I was, quarrying again.
Caver Juan Laden finally got to spend some time today with scientist Justin Sipla, and they spent a long time discussing hypotheses involving paleokarst (ancient cave systems that are now filled in) and the potential former existence of other holes that led to the surface. This idea had been suggested by another scientist, Trevor Worthy, who had visited early in the season.
Such a hypothesis requires testing, so Justin and Juan dug a test pit (now called the JJ Pit) in a spot that would not be expected to yield vertebrate fossils if the current opening were the only opening by which fossils could drop in, but would be loaded with fossils if their working hypothesis was true. Continue reading
Today I worked on the surface collecting rock samples. I’m seeking an answer to a fairly simple question – one that was brought up by one of out caver colleagues.
Most of the so-called micro-vertebrate fossil (these are small animals like lizards, snakes, songbirds, mice, and shrews) come from a traceable layer in Natural Trap Cave that is brilliantly red.
A terrible flash photo, but you can clearly see the reddish layer. The hole in it is where I removed sediment for analysis.
So, why is the red layer red? Continue reading
Today was another cave day for me. Most likely, it was the last cave day for this season for me. I’m leaving in a few days and have a few research items to pursue on the surface before heading out. (I’ll describe those in future posts.)
But the cave is a wonderful place. And as it happens, Natural Trap Cave has its heroes too. We ran out of toilet paper in the cave yesterday, but were rescued this morning by Toilet Paper Man. Who else could so boldly wear toilet paper on his head?
Toilet Paper Man, aka John Logdson, descends into the cave with a roll of toilet paper attached to his helmet. Our hero!
It was another wonderful, yet exhausting day in the cave.
One of the first things that happened was the collection of a pelvis belonging most likely to a Bison.
Kacia Cain prepares to package the Bison pelvis for removal.
After three days working topside, I went back down into Natural Trap Cave today.
Most of what I did involved the excavation of a North American cheetah.
Digging for cheetahs.
It was nice to sleep in a proper bed last night. After running a few errands in Lovell, we headed back up the hill to get back to work. Continue reading
I apparently over-did it a bit in the cave yesterday, so I spent today topside screen-washing sediment.
Screen-washing area, ready-to-go.
Today I went back into the cave to do some more work. I also made a point of taking my ‘good’ camera.
Planning the day’s work while the rest of the crew descends.
It seems like it was only two days ago when I went into town to get groceries and water…
Oh wait, it was only two days ago… Continue reading