Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Committee Member

Stephen M. Rowland

Number of Pages



Gypsum Cave, near Las Vegas, Nevada, was excavated in 1930, yielding a Rancholabrean-to-Holocene mammalian fauna intermixed with many human artifacts. The bone assemblage, which is now housed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, contains burned and fractured bones with conspicuous grooves that have never before been studied. The objectives of this study are to (1) identify and describe the Gypsum Cave fauna, (2) interpret the taphonomy of the fauna to test the hypothesis that Gypsum Cave represents a site of interaction between Pleistocene animals and Paleo-Indians, and (3) use the Gypsum Cave fauna to better characterize the Pleistocene paleoecology of Southern Nevada. The methods include: identifying the species present; determining their abundance in the cave; determining the age of the fauna; determining the spatial distribution of the bones; analyzing the fractures and surficial features of the bones; and examining the micromorphology of the burned bone surfaces. These scanning electron microscope (SEM) analyses indicate that Gypsum Cave does not represent a site of Late Pleistocene human butchery, but rather a Late Pleistocene predator's lair that was later inhabited and overprinted by humans in the Holocene.


Analysis; Cave; Fauna; Faunal; Gypsum; Holocene; Nevada; Rancholabrean; Revisited; Southern; Taphonomic

Controlled Subject


File Format


File Size

3.19 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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