[Excavations are to be started by the National Park Service in a South Dakota Cave which has been left untouched for the past 11000 years. The cave were discovered in 2004 but was a closely guarded secret to prevent marauding cave hunters and explorers from disturbing the site before it could be studied.
The National Park Service is set to begin excavating the mouth of a South Dakota cave that has been virtually untouched for nearly 11,000 years. According to the Porterville Recorder, the cave was discovered in 2004, but its existence was kept a secret so as to deter amateur cave explorers from disturbing the site before it could be studied.]
This spot in the Black Hills used to be known as Fossil Cycad National Monument. Now just an unremarkable collection of sloping meadows dotted with ponderosa, juniper, and cactus, it once harbored one of the world’s greatest collections of fossilized cycadeoids. The 120-million-year-old fossils, also known as bennettitaleans, had curious flower-like structures that scientists believed held clues to the origin of blooming plants.
Hundreds of petrified logs and pineapple-shaped fossils littered these 320 acres, many preserved at a near cellular level. But by 1957, only 35 years after Fossil Cycad National Monument was established, they all had disappeared, stolen by visitors. So Congress stripped the area of its protected status as a national monument—a rare demotion—and it faded from public memory.
Last month, Christopher Bae of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Wei Wang of the Guangxi Museum of Nationalities in Nanning, China, and their colleagues announced the discovery of two teeth from the Luna cave in China’s Guangxi Zhuang region, which testing suggests belonged to an early Homo sapiens.
The study, published in Quaternary International, revealed that calcite crystals, which formed as water flowed over the teeth and the cave floor, date them to between 70,000 and 125,000 years ago. So Bae and Wang say they are evidence of an early wave of modern humans in eastern Asia.