Speaker Series 2018: Looking for Fossils in Underground Caves

Caves of western North America preserve important fossil deposits that provide insight into biological changes that occurred during the last ice age. Fossiliferous cave deposits often contain large numbers of specimens, and sometimes preserve rare or uncommon specimens (e.g., soft tissue, dung). They also provide an important perspective on life at higher elevations.

In Nevada, cave deposits suggest the persistence of mammals in long-term unfavourable conditions in mountainous areas. In Alberta, research on cave deposits is revealing the timing of the return of mammalian life to the Rocky Mountains following the recession of glacial ice. In South Dakota, cave deposits reveal significant changes in the biogeographic distribution of mammals during later portions of the last ice age.

In his presentation, Dr. Chris Jass, Royal Alberta Museum, takes you on a 20-year tour of ice age cave deposits in western North America, and discusses research projects associated with sites in Arizona, Nevada, South Dakota, and Alberta. He also examines some of the unique challenges encountered while conducting fieldwork in caves.

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