NPS Paleontology Research Abstract Volume


FOSSIL TURTLES OF PORT KENNEDY CAVE (PLEISTOCENE);
VALLEY FORGE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, PENNSYLVANIA

David C. Parris
Natural History Bureau
New Jersey State Museum
205 W. State St., CN-530
Trenton, NJ 08625-0530

One of the most significant paleontological sites now within a National Park Service tract was the Port Kennedy Cave site in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Its famed interglacial fauna was collected and described by nineteenth century authorities with remarkable precision. During 1992 the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (repository of most of the specimens) initiated review of the collections with the cooperation of the National Park Service. Important new information on the fossil turtles has already resulted.
Of the four species of turtles from Port Kennedy the wood turtle, Clemmys insculpta, is present in the modern regional fauna, although uncommon. The Eastern Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina, specimens from Port Kennedy are among the earliest known of the species (Pleistocene - Yarmouthian) and several other named species should be synonymized with it. The species presumably diverged in earlier (?Pliocene?) times, developed in eastern North America, and later expanded its range westward. Blanding's Turtle, Emydoidea blandingii, has no modern distribution in Delaware Valley region. A specimen of Emydoidea blandingii from Port Kennedy, coupled with two specimens from New Jersey, demonstrates the existence of a Quaternary population. The type specimen of a true tortoise, Geochelone (Hesperotestudo) percrassa, is from Port Kennedy. It is perhaps the most northerly record of a tortoise in eastern North America.
Although the Port Kennedy fauna was not part of the basis for establishment of Valley Forge National Historical Park, the specimens have both historic and scientific significance to that unit of the National Park Service.




EARLY AND MIDDLE ARCHAIC SECTIONS OF THE BEAVER CREEK SHELTER, WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH DAKOTA

Rachel Benton
Fossil Butte National Monument
Kemmerer, WY 83101

This study is based on a 1 m thick section encompassing the Early and Middle Archaic time periods within the Beaver Creek Shelter, Wind Cave National Park. Radiocarbon dates indicate that the studied units range in age from 4010 + 100 BP, which closely correlates with the Altithermal climatic period. Artifacts found within the 4 younger stratigraphic layers provide evidence for human habitation of the site.
The sedimentary deposits from the site document the existence of overbank deposits probably due to occasional flooding. These depositional events are very similar to those occurring in the Beaver Creek Valley today, and Beaver Creek may have flowed very close to the shelter at one time.
Although, vertebrate, plant and gastropod remains were found throughout the studied units, this study is based solely on the vertebrate materials. All of the vertebrate remains were disarticulated and many of the elements were broken. Specimens were brought into the site by human inhabitants, carnivores and by fluvial processes. Animals who were in search of food and cover were also attracted to the site. Based on a tabulation of minimum number of individuals, within 10 cm thick increments, Levels 11 and 12 indicate a rise in abundance of specimens without a corresponding increase in matrix. A small percentage of burned elements, comprising mostly mammals were primarily concentrated within Levels 6-10. The majority of specimens within the studied section were from mature adults with few juveniles or older individuals signifying a rapid faunal accumulation.
Overall, the vertebrates correlate closely with the extant fauna found in the Black Hills. As an ecological community, the taxa are most commonly associated with a meadow, woodland and grassland interface which presently occurs along Beaver Creek. Even though this change has not been shown to be statistically significant, it is important to note that a slight increase in taxa with a dry habitat preference occurs within the lower levels of the studied section.
Because of the higher elevation of the site in relation to the surrounding plains and its close proximity to flowing water, the Beaver Creek Shelter could comply with the refuge hypothesis proposed by many earlier researchers. A noticeable addition of taxa preferring a drier habitat, and the site's elevation provide evidence for a slight drying trend and the existence of a possible refuge for both humans and animals under climatic pressure.




FOSSIL VERTEBRATES FROM THE OLIGOCENE WHITE RIVER DEPOSITS
OF WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, BLACK HILLS, SOUTH DAKOTA

James E. Martin
Museum of Geology
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
Rapid City, South Dakota 57701

Oligocene deposits in the Big Badlands of western South Dakota are internationally famous for their fossil vertebrates. However, vertebrates of this age are rare in deposits occurring at higher elevations in the Black Hills to the west. The Klukas localities (named for their discoverer, Richard Klukas) in northeastern Wind Cave National Park have produced the largest diversity of Oligocene invertebrates and vertebrates from the Black Hills proper. The invertebrates are represented by gastropod species; the vertebrate assemblage includes turtles, lizards, insectivores, rodents, lagomorphs, carnivores, perissodactyls, and artiodactyls. All genera have been previously found in the Big Badlands and indicate that the sedimentary succession in Wind Cave National Park was deposited during the Orellan Land Mammal Age.




THE BEAVER CREEK SHELTER (39CU779): A HOLOCENE SUCCESSION
IN THE BLACK HILLS OF SOUTH DAKOTA

James E. Martin, Robert A. Alex & Lynn Marie Alex
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
Rapid City, South Dakota 57701

The Beaver Creek Shelter contains the most complete Holocene section in the Black Hills and evidence for the cultural transition regionally between the Early and Middle Archaic periods from approximately 6,720 years to 3,800 years ago. Test excavations were limited to 22 stratigraphic units through 4.77 m of section, ranging from 9,380 to 1,750 years ago. Mollusk, plant, and vertebrate remains occur throughout the section and provide documentation for Holocene environmental change in the southern Black Hills. Shelter occupation was during warm seasons by peoples engaged in hunting and food processing activities who utilized locally available raw materials. The McKean cultural complex in this locality represents a continuation of the lifestyles represented in the later portion of the Early Archaic period. A change in artifact styles, lithic composition, and reduction of the numbers of modified flakes and debitage, however, suggest changes in site utilization may have occurred by the Middle Archaic period.


Back to Table of Contents

United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service