• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota

Abstract - Graveyard Cave: A Holocene Faunal Record from the Black Hills of South Dakota

Manganaro, Carol A. 1994. Graveyard Cave: A Holocene Faunal Record from the Black Hills of South Dakota. MA Thesis. Northern Arizona University. 119 p.


Graveyard Cave is a natural trap located in Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Holocene fauna from Graveyard Cave is diverse, with over 28 recovered mammalian species as well as snails, amphibians, reptiles, and birds.

Graveyard Cave was excavated in the summer of 1992. A 1 m by 1 m test pit was dug in 10 cm arbitrary levels, down to 83 cm. Ninety-three gallon sized bags of sediment were removed from the cave and wet screened. These were picked for bone, charcoal, and mollusks. Faunal remains were identified using comparative collections and current literature.

Graveyard Cave is located on a pine-dense ridgetop in the Southern Hills. Most recovered taxa from Graveyard Cave are indicating that at the time of deposition of the faunal remains, the area immediately surrounding the cave was open grassland and not the dense forest which currently exists. The site may be an indicator of the closing in of the ponderosa pine forest into and within the Black Hills.

Did You Know?

Natural Entrance of Wind Cave

Winds caused by changes in barometric pressure are what give Wind Cave its name. These winds have been measured at the cave's walk-in entrance at over 70 mph. The winds at the natural entrance of the cave attracted the attention of Native Americans and early settlers.