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The researchers have found remains of hundreds of prehistoric animals from an ancient cave in the United States.
The excavation work was carried by an international team of paleontologists at the Natural Trap Cave.
The researchers were carrying excavation work in the prehistoric cave hoping that it contains the rare clues and remains of Ice Age mammals.
The cave, situated at the Bighorn Mountains base in Wyoming’s north-central part, was first excavated by the same team since its discovery in the 1970s.
The investigators say that they are of the opinion that the animals died in the cave after falling into the sinkhole. There is only one hole in the ground that is the entering point of the cave. Researchers believe this may be the point from where animals fell 80 feet down to their death. They further said that animal bones are buried about 30 feet under the sediments. The cold and damp conditions of the cave must have successfully preserved the fossils, the investigators believe.
According to the research team, around 200 large animal bones were unearthed during the excavation. The remains were that of animals like American bison, cheetahs, horses, wolves and others. The remains suggest that the animals may have existed about 12,000 to 23,000 years ago in North America.
Julie Meachen, one of the paleontologists from Des Moines University who was engaged in the excavation, said, “We found evidence of bison, quite a lot of cheetah and horse and a bit of gray wolf.”
“Some bones still have collagen with intact DNA for genetic testing, while some fossils are fragments crushed by rocks,” Meachen said while adding, “But we take it for what it is when we find it.”
The researchers not only had a rendezvous with the animal bones at the ancient excavation site but they also unearthed a large amount of microfossils of creatures like birds, lizards and snakes.
According to the scientists, the new findings could help in understanding more about the Ice Age extinction in a better way. The analysis of the fossils would help in revealing more about the habitat, climate, diets and genetic diversity of ancient creatures of North America and how they fall victim to the extinction during the Ice Age more than 10,000 years ago.
“It is an incredible site. It definitely is one of the most significant sites that BLM manages and it will provide very, very important information,” said Brent Breithaupt, a paleontologist for the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The well-preserved remains of the ancient creatures have been sent to the universities in the United States and the University of Adelaide’s Australian Center for Ancient DNA for further research work.