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Paciphacops

Jaguar bone?

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Paciphacops

This bone was found a few years ago in a large Tennessee cave. The location was about a mile from the only entrance. Someone had removed it from it's original location, and placed it on a rock next to the trail. The ends looked freshly broken, so I looked for hours trying to find the original location, just in case the ends were present, which would make identification much easier. No other bones were found, and this is the only large, ancient bone ever found in the deeper parts of the cave. I removed it from the cave (with permission), in hopes I could learn more about it. 

 

In a couple of areas in the cave, not too far away, many ancient tracks have been found that are thought to be from a pleistocene Jaguar. I know that identifying this bone may not be possible, but just thought I would share it here for opinions. Is there anything about it that would rule out Jaguar?

 

Thanks

BS bone.jpg

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Paciphacops

Closeup of one end.

P1016078sm.jpg

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Paciphacops

And the other end.

P1016091sm.jpg

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Paciphacops

One more view.

P1016103sm.jpg

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coled18

It really reminds me of a partial Bovid Humerus that I found recently in terms of shape and size. 

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caldigger

Or perhaps something the cat may have brought into the cave for a snack later.

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coled18
2 minutes ago, caldigger said:

Or perhaps something the cat may have brought into the cave for a snack later.

On that note, @Hal you may want to look for signs of predation. Those are always super cool to find.

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Auspex

Whoever removed it from the cave not only broke the law, but robbed the relic of what it had to tell us.:(

If any authorized person or group is responsible for the study of this cave, they are the ones who should have it.

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Paciphacops
2 hours ago, Auspex said:

Whoever removed it from the cave not only broke the law, but robbed the relic of what it had to tell us.:(

If any authorized person or group is responsible for the study of this cave, they are the ones who should have it.

 

I was a member of the group studying the cave. We were exploring and mapping it several years ago. Whenever we came across paleontological remains, we flagged them off, documented them, and left them undisturbed, although very little has been found in this cave. Unfortunately, someone did remove the bone from it's original in situ location. That disturbance was probably a violation of our cave protection law. The bone was spotted along the trail by someone who recognized it's significance, and notified me. The bone was in a very vulnerable spot next to the main trail, so it either needed to be hidden somewhere out of sight, or removed for protection. After consulting with the landowner, I removed it for conservation, hoping we could learn something from it eventually. Removal of material from caves is not illegal in Tennessee, if done so with the permission of the landowner (except for Human remains), but we try to never do this unless absolutely necessary.

 

All but the first few hundred feet of the cave had never seen human visitation prior to the artificial enlargement of a small crack about 30 years ago. All of the cave beyond the crack was virgin, and also mostly "fossil", meaning the underground river that created the passages has long abandoned them, leaving them very dry. The cave has also been included in a study using cosmogenic dating, where quartz pebbles washed into the cave during the active formation stage, are dated, given a minimal age (basically, how long the pebble has been underground, protected from cosmic rays). The pebbles came from undisturbed sediments with precise elevations, so the age of the different levels could be estimated. The sediments in the passage in the area where the bone was found, are dated to about 1 to 1.5 million years. Any bone material that washed into the cave, would likely be extremely old. Of course, we don't know for sure where it actually came from.

 

I have consulted with a paleontologist I know, but there was no interest, due to the lost context (which I expected). The bone is almost exactly as it was when removed, except some dry mud has flaked off. I have not attempted to disturb it or clean it in any way. There are absolutely no signs of predation. When we find bones near the entrances of caves, they are almost always chewed on by rodents. There are no bite marks of any kind that I can see, but there are areas still covered with dried mud. Also, the area where it was found, does not have any damp mud in the area, so the mud may be very old, or the bone was from another area in the cave.

 

The Jaguar (yes, we think there may have only been one - all tracks are the same size) almost certainly entered the cave through an entrance that no longer exists. Based on the geology and topography, the only possible locations for this entrance are still pretty far from the tracks. I would think it is extremely unlikely that this bone was something dragged in by the Jaguar, and there is no way a bovid got in there on it's own. Someone may have deliberately brought the bone in from outside, or near the entrance, but then I would expect to see some sort of rodent marks on it. Also, why would someone take a bone a mile into a cave, and leave it on a rock? The mystery continues.....

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Auspex

Thank you very much for your detailed explanation of the circumstances. I will never pass up an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of (except for sanctioned, accredited research work) not disturbing caves/caverns.

And thank you, too, for your contributions to science.

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Paciphacops
30 minutes ago, Auspex said:

Thank you very much for your detailed explanation of the circumstances. I will never pass up an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of (except for sanctioned, accredited research work) not disturbing caves/caverns.

And thank you, too, for your contributions to science.

 

You're welcome!

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