Checking out Cave Bones (with B. Khameiss)


Alex Hastings (left) and Belkasim Khameiss (right) looking at bones from a Virginia cave.

Belkasim has been going through the bone fauna sampled from a cave in Bath County, Virginia. Most of the bones and teeth come from small mammals that are still alive in Virginia today, like shrews, bats, rabbits and raccoons.


4There are some teeth and partial teeth from larger animals too.  Most belong to deer, but one is a beautiful canine from a black bear.


The bones also include several snakes, birds, frogs and even fish (which were definitely not living in the cave, but got washed in some time ago).


Interestingly, the cave is carved out from limestone that also contains fossils of brachiopods from the Ordovician (about 450 million years ago).


The most exciting of all though is this piece of tooth that seems to fit well with Mastodon, an extinct relative of elephants and mammoths. The cave may represent a mix of time periods, but it’s still exciting to possibly find something from at least 11,000 years ago in this Virginia cave!


About Alex

I started as the Assistant Curator of Paleontology at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in July of 2015. It's been a fun ride so far, with many more projects on the horizion. My background is in fossil reptiles, especially crocodiles and their kin. Here in Virginia, I've also been getting to know the fascinating world of fossil insects, sharks, and the ice age.
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