Abstract - Paleoecology of the Late and Post-Archaic Section of the Beaver Creek Shelter

Abbott, Jane Paxson. 1989. Paleoecology of the Late and Post-Archaic Section of the Beaver Creek Shelter (39CU779), Wind Cave National Park, Custer County, South Dakota. M.S. Thesis. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, South Dakota. 214 p.


The taxa collected and analyzed during this study from the Beaver Creek Shelter were deposited in the upper 1.5 meters of the Late Holocene sediments. From the eleven stratigraphic horizons studied, three samples of interbedded charcoal were dated at 3870 ± 70 yrs. B.P. from Horizon 11, 2220 ± 70 yrs. B.P. from Horizon 7, and 1750 ± 60 yrs. B.P. from Horizon 4. The sediments at the Beaver Shelter are flat-lying, laminated, fine-grained, quartz sandstone and contain a high percentage of silt and clay. The fine sediments alternate with breccia-like layers derived and reworked from roof fall from the rock shelter. Overall, the lithologies indicate periods of high and low energy stream flow on a flood plain. Plant, gastropod, pelecypod, and vertebrate remains occur in all eleven horizons. Twelve orders representing twenty families and thirty species of vertebrates are in the sample at the Beaver Creek locality. The taxa include: minnows, suckers, toads, frogs, snakes, birds, shrews, bats, rabbits, deer, buffalo, and rodents. Toads and rodents comprise the majority of remains at the site. Taphonomic observations indicate movement of the specimens prior to burial. Burned and splintered bones from human occupation indicate the introduction of taxa to the site by occupants. The remains could represent residual accumulations of elements reworked by flooding of a human occupation site. The unbroken nature of most of the bones and the fragile bat and bird elements indicate short transport distance. The identiifiable skeletal remains from the site all represent extant taxa in the Black Hills. The habitat preference s of these animals indicate a transitional zone between forest and grassland near a water source. This habitat is similar to the area surrounding the Beaver Creek Shelter of today. The little environmental variation over time suggests that the Black Hills was a stable region during the Late Holocene and remained so until the present. This stablilty is in contradiction to the fluctuations suggested by some workers in other parts of North America.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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