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Wyoming's Natural Trap Cave Yields Huge Trove of Animal Remains

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the you'd-think-the-name-would-tip-them-off dept.

Earth 31

A cave in Wyoming that's easy to fall into, and hard to escape, has become a treasure trove for scientists. Scientists excavating an ancient Wyoming sinkhole containing a rare trove of fossils of Ice Age mammals have unearthed hundreds of bones of such prehistoric animals as American cheetahs, a paleontologist said on Friday. The two-week dig by an international team of researchers led by Des Moines University paleontologist Julie Meachen marked the first exploration of Natural Trap Cave at the base of the Bighorn Mountains in north-central Wyoming since its initial discovery in the 1970s. ... Meachen said the extensive excavation that began late last month uncovered roughly 200 large bones of animals like horses that roamed North America from 12,000 to 23,000 years ago and an uncounted number of microfossils of creatures such as birds, lizards and snakes. ... A number of animals that fell 85 feet to their deaths after stumbling into the 15-foot-wide mouth of the cavern were unusually well preserved by cold and damp conditions, Meachen said.

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You're out in Wyoming minding your own business (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47637279)

... and suddenly you're fighting for survival.

Kinda like going on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney.

Re:You're out in Wyoming minding your own business (2)

DragonTHC (208439) | about a month and a half ago | (#47637487)

More like, you've found Earth's only sarlacc pit.

You're out in Wyoming minding your own business (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47637893)

And then I suddenly encounter a Liberal who doesn't know how to keep politics out of posts.

Re:You're out in Wyoming minding your own business (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about a month and a half ago | (#47640307)

It's funny no matter what political party you belong to, or it should be.

Moderate Republicans? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47637335)

Did they find any moderate Republicans? They used to roam this country in the last century but are almost extinct.

Re:Moderate Republicans? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47637425)

Because the liberals attacked them at every opportunity which radicalized them.

Not a US citizen and don't care for either party.

Re:Moderate Republicans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47640561)

Because the liberals attacked them at every opportunity which radicalized them.

So your saying the liberals are terrorists or merely the trainers of terrorists by way of radicalization?

Re:Moderate Republicans? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a month and a half ago | (#47638699)

They fell into Jerry Mander's Cave.

Re:Moderate Republicans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47638993)

Take your meds greenwow. You're acting stupid again.

Did Native Americans use this to kill prey? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47637353)

I've heard that Native Americans would kill prey like bison and buffalo by running them off of cliffs, where the prey would fall to its death and then be consumed by the Natives. Was this used for a similar purpose?

Also, if Native Americans came from Eurasia, aren't they just as Eurasian as anyone else who came from Europe or Asia? I often hear people saying that those of European and Asian descent don't have any claim over North America, but if Native Americans are from the exact same place, don't all Europeans and Asians have an equal claim to North American land?

And something else I'm confused about is how Native Americans are always said to have lived in peace with one another. If that were true, how come Europeans met with warriors when they first visited North America? Why would there be Native American warriors if there was no war between Native American tribes prior to Europeans visiting?

Re:Did Native Americans use this to kill prey? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47637455)

The truth is that "Native Americans" are not native at all. The original inhabitants were black and they lived here until 9,000 years ago. Then the invaders came across the strait and genocided them. There were hangers on in isolated places in South America until modern times.

So the current "Native Americans" are no more or less native than any European and they did the same thing the Europeans did when they got here. The only real difference is that the Europeans stopped before they were all dead and have since tried to make up for the mistreatment.

Re:Did Native Americans use this to kill prey? (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a month and a half ago | (#47638793)

running them off of cliffs...Was this used for a similar purpose?

Only if there is a way to get to the bottom of the cave and carry out the prey, such as a side entrance. But I have heard about traps that use a similar technique: dig a hole at a narrow passage, cover it with hide, sticks, and dirt, and wait for a sucker to step on it and fall in. Dinner!

Native Americans are always said to have lived in peace with one another. If that were true, how come Europeans met with warriors

They didn't live in peace, all humans fight and they are no different. The difference is that there usually wasn't genocide: if there was a clear victory, the losing tribe merged with the winning one (at least the women and children).

Re:Did Native Americans use this to kill prey? (1)

ultranova (717540) | about a month and a half ago | (#47642321)

They didn't live in peace, all humans fight and they are no different.

Gypsies? I can't recall any wars with Gypsies-vs-someone else.

In any case, most human beings never fight seriously in their lives. Nations do, but even that's getting less frequent as the overall world system gets more organized. So it could very well be that the age of wars was just a historical anomaly that's on its way out through natural selection - after all, resources spent on an army are resources that can't be spent on scientific research or infrastructure, and as Putin is currently learning, empire building is a venue of high risks and questionable gains.

Wouldn't it be funny if it turned out future is all sunshine and rainbow-farting unicorns because fascist militant dystopias simply can't compete against decadent liberal bleeding-heart hippie democracies on raw efficiency?

Re:Did Native Americans use this to kill prey? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47658455)

And where on earth do you find such liberals? Certainly not in the world today, especially not in the USA.

Re:Did Native Americans use this to kill prey? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47640571)

And something else I'm confused about is how Native Americans are always said to have lived in peace with one another. If that were true, how come Europeans met with warriors when they first visited North America? Why would there be Native American warriors if there was no war between Native American tribes prior to Europeans visiting?

Native Americans, called First Nations in Canada, were not a homogeneous group. While some Nations lived largely peacefully there were other Nations with warrior factions within and they could be highly aggressive. I recommend you watch "The Black Robe" [ http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/black-robe-1991 ] for a historically accurate portrayal instead of the Hollywood portrayal known as "Dances with the Wolves [ http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/dances-with-wolves-1990 ]."

Re:Did Native Americans use this to kill prey? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47652271)

And something else I'm confused about is how Native Americans are always said to have lived in peace with one another. If that were true, how come Europeans met with warriors when they first visited North America? Why would there be Native American warriors if there was no war between Native American tribes prior to Europeans visiting?

Who ever said that to you is feeding you a huge line of bullshit. They fought among each other just like any other groups of humans in other parts of the world.

interior and exterior photos (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47637413)

Here's a photo from the cave floor. [dailymail.co.uk]

And another from the surface [stateschronicle.com] showing the grate the park system has put over the opening for safety. But you can see if you were an animal running along that this would be a rather sudden an unexpected plummet.

Re:interior and exterior photos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47638579)

It looks like it would be really easy to take that grate off and create some new fossils.

Re:interior and exterior photos (1)

ilizarovs (3780389) | about a month and a half ago | (#47640727)

And 23000 years later , some new fossils..

Just the last 100K years (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a month and a half ago | (#47637417)

Does not go back very far. Just last 100K years. Similar to the La Brea tar pits in age and diversity. Tar pits preserve bones and lots of micro fossils very well, but it is very tedious to clean them out. May be this one could be easier.

Reminds me of "At the Mountains of Madness" (2)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about a month and a half ago | (#47637539)

Maybe they oughta stop digging. Albino bison are sure to follow.

.

Wyoming... (2, Insightful)

bayankaran (446245) | about a month and a half ago | (#47637715)

What an interesting state...cave, Dick Cheney, sink holes, fossils.
Go Wyoming go...

Re:Wyoming... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a month and a half ago | (#47638767)

Those are all the same thing :-)

Re:Wyoming... (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about a month and a half ago | (#47640327)

Protip: It works on people too, so they probably want to leave the grate on. Especially since people are the only animals that will actually try to find the hole, which would increase the likelyhood that they would fall in it by a severe amount.

"Hey, Bubba, didn't you say there were bear traps around here? Ya think you could show em to me?" "Sure, Truett, they're right over heaaaaaAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!"

Predator Heaven? (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a month and a half ago | (#47638755)

If a predator such as a mountain lion falls in and survives, he may actually have an easy life if new food falls in every few weeks. Even if the lion breaks its legs and can only hobble, bigger prey may be in worse condition, and thus readily munch-able, especially if the prey is vegetarian because they'd grow too weak to fight back being there's not much to live on down there.

And the lion may get really lucky if another lion of the opposite sex falls in. They can limp around together and munch fallen buffalo and have a family.

I doubt the frequency of falls is actually that high, but if the opening was at a highly-trafficked spot, such as near a watering hole or narrow passage through hills, it could be productive.

Re:Predator Heaven? (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about a month and a half ago | (#47639143)

If a predator such as a mountain lion falls in and survives, he may actually have an easy life if new food falls in every few weeks. Even if the lion breaks its legs and can only hobble, bigger prey may be in worse condition, and thus readily munch-able, especially if the prey is vegetarian because they'd grow too weak to fight back being there's not much to live on down there.

And the lion may get really lucky if another lion of the opposite sex falls in. They can limp around together and munch fallen buffalo and have a family.

I doubt the frequency of falls is actually that high, but if the opening was at a highly-trafficked spot, such as near a watering hole or narrow passage through hills, it could be productive.

Do you want cave lions? Because that's how you get cave lions!

Predator Heaven? (1)

ilizarovs (3780389) | about a month and a half ago | (#47640733)

Making best use of a bad situation ..

Re:Predator Heaven? (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about a month ago | (#47650555)

And then all the baby lions would playfully limp around and.... oh wait.

Re:Predator Heaven? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47652277)

that would depend on how much water collected in this pit and if it was drinkable.

It was a long time ago (2)

nospam007 (722110) | about a month and a half ago | (#47640957)

Apparently birds still fell to their deaths at that time.

Wyoming: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47644945)

Celebrating 100k years of OH SHIIIIII--
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