October 12th, 2020

Cordon C3

A Fistful of Herpetofauna

I think from now on I'm gonna cut to the chase and describe myself as "gender oblivious."

The sun is back, thank goodness. Delta was not welcomed here, though I doubt she was anywhere, and certainly not where she did genuine damage. Hopefully, we are done with hurricanes for the year. Our high today was a pleasant 83˚F.

The trees went all autumn while I was hiding in the house.

So, today I opened up the sample that Jun brought me last week, a hash of bones and bone fragments from a Pleistocene-aged cave deposit in northwestern Alabama. This stuff was actually collected in June 1987 (this is the pace of paleontology, oftentimes; recall that Winifred was discovered in 1983) by a crew from the sadly defunct Red Mountain Museum. A bone-rich orange clay covers the floor of the cave, bones that sifted down from the forest floor above the cave through fissures or were carried in during occasional flooding of the nearby Tennessee River. The cave's stratigraphy is rather complicated, but the bed this sample was derived from has been carbon dated to 11,820 +48 to -500 BP (the date was derived from a black bear femur), which means it was lain down during the Wisconsin Glacial Episode. The animal and plant remains preserved in the clay indicate that the Wisconsin in that part of Alabama was very similar to that today, though there were numerous species that are either now extinct or still exist elsewhere, but have been extirpated from the state. Black bears, white-tailed deer, tapirs, beavers, peccaries, mastodons, various mustelids (skunks, wolverines, weasels, etc.), foxes, cougar, wolves, mice, voles, shrews, mountains of bat remains, a sabertooth cat tooth, various lizards, snakes, turtles, frogs, and salamanders, and – see? A marvelous fauna. A nearby cave of roughly the same age produced multiple giant ground sloth skeletons. Anyway, I'm mostly looking for reptiles remains, including essentially microscopic squamate bones, but I'm trying to sort the whole sample while I'm at it.

Balanced somewhere precarious between ironic and idiotic, that anyone would tear down a statue of Abraham Lincoln in a protest of Columbus Day.

Later Taters,
Aunt "Bones A'Plenty" Beast




4:53 p.m.