Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 12, no. 3, p. 32A. (1992)
TWO SPECIES OF BEAR FOUND IN LATE PLEISTOCENE/EARLY HOLOCENE DEN IN EL CAPITAN CAVE, PRINCE OF WALES ISLAND, SOUTHERN ALASKA COAST

Timothy H. Heaton
Dept. of Earth Sciences
Univ. of South Dakota
Vermillion, SD 57069
Frederick Grady
Dept. of Paleobiology
Smithsonian Inst.
Washington, D.C. 20560

A complete skeleton and two partial skeletons of Ursus americanus and fragments of a much larger bear have been found in a high, nearly inaccessible chamber in El Capitan Cave. The skeletons are strewn along 10 m of narrow cave passage between a deep pool and a former entrance now sealed with rock debris.

The complete skeleton is in excellent condition and was AMS dated at 10,745+/-75 yr. B.P. Associated piles of ground fish bone are probably this bear's excreta. The other two U. americanus are probably older. Fragments of the large bear are mixed with debris nearer the former entrance and date at 9,760+/-75 yr. B.P. Tentative identification is an exceptionally large U. arctos.

These are the first Pleistocene vertebrate fossils recovered from the Alexander Archipelago and suggest early post-glacial colonization followed by some extirpation (since U. americanus is the only bear now inhabiting Prince of Wales Island).


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