Danger Cave, Last Supper Cave, and Hanging Rock Shelter : the faunas


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Publication Date

May 1988


This monograph presents the results ofthe analysis of faunas from three caves and rockshelters in the northern half of the Great Basin: Danger Cave (Tooele County, western Utah), Last Supper Cave (Humboldt County, northwestern Nevada), and Hanging Rock Shelter (Washoe County, northwestern Nevada). The Danger Cave fauna was excavated by Jesse D. Jennings between 1949 and 1953. A total of 3628 Danger Cave bones and teeth were identified to at least the genus level, ofwhich 3513 are mammalian, 1 14 are avian, and 1 is reptilian. Stratigraphic analysis ofthis fauna shows that the major change in the nature of the vertebrate fauna in the western basin of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville occurred at ca. 10,000 B.P. At this time, a series of relatively mesic-adapted taxa seems to have become locally extinct: pygmy rabbits (Sylvilagus idahoensis), yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris), and Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). This faunal shift indicates a decrease in locally available mesic habitats, and correlates well with the suggested retreat of Lake Bonneville from the Gilbert level at about 10,000 B.P. It does not support suggestions that Lake Bonneville did not exceed historic levels between ca. 14,500 and 3500 B.P. In documenting the local presence of yellow-bellied marmots and bushy-tailed wood rats along the lower elevations of the Silver Island Mountains, the Danger Cave fauna adds significant support to J. H. Brown's account of the history of boreal mammals in the Great Basin. The decline in the abundance of pygmy rabbits at ca. 10,000 B.P. here may be correlated with the terminal Pleistocene extirpation ofthese animals from the Southwest, and suggests that these leporids underwent two periods of prehistoric decline in the Great Basin: one at the end of the Pleistocene (documented only from Danger Cave), and one at about 7000 B.P. (documented from a number of sites in the northern Great Basin). Last Supper Cave was excavated by T. N. Layton between 1968 and 1973, and by J. 0. Davis in 1974. The faunal


Danger Cave, Last Supper Cave, Hanging Rock Shleter

Document Type



Anthropological papers of the AMNH, Vol. 66, no. 1 (1988-05-06).