Friesenhahn Cave is a one-room fossil-rich cave situated west of U, once called Bulverde Cave and Bone Cave. In north central Bexar County, S. Highway 281. The cave is a sinkhole built in the Karst topography of the area. A vertical twenty-eight-foot shaft is the only entry, as known since the earliest twentieth-century explorations. The floor of the cave, measuring thirty by sixty feet and having a seven-foot ceiling, is relatively level.
George Veni in the Caves of Bexar County described Friesenhahn Cave as "one of the most important paleontological sites in the United States" due to the wealth of bones and fossils discovered at the site. Concordia University, the institution that is the cave’s steward, has reported that, besides the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, “no site in the United States has yielded a greater variety of significant Pleistocene vertebrate fossils.” For more than a century, paleontological excavations began and stopped at the Friesenhahn Cave; often decades passed between excavations. The first recorded cave description was a survey carried out by D in December 1915. V. Schuchardt, a student at College Station (now Texas A&M University) at the Agricultural and Mechanical College. He claimed that three layers of fossil-bearing material had covered the floor of the cave. Schuchardt gathered samples from 18 species that were sent to the National Museum of the United States (now the Smithsonian Building of Arts and Industries) in Washington , D.C.
Geologist E. in June of 1919. In Bexar County's Geology and Mineral Resources, a geology bulletin issued by the University of Texas, H. Sellards described vertebrate fossils discovered in a cave on Mr. A. 's land. [Albert] Friesenhahn. "Sellards claimed that for years before, the location of the cave was identified, and small animal bones, an elephant, and sabre-tooth tiger were recorded."
A Texas Memorial Museum team at the University of Texas excavated the site in the late 1940s and early 1950s. One full adult and two complete juvenile scimitar-tooth Homotherium serum (saber-toothed) cats were found. The saber-toothed skeletons remained well-preserved as the cave encountered little disruption over the thousands of years following their deaths. Research found that the initial entrance to the cave sloped to the floor, allowing it to be used by sabre-toothed cats as their home.
Throughout the 1970s, further academic study was carried out in the cave. Concordia University in Austin began excavations in the late 1990s. In 1998, through a donation from a parent whose daughter once attended Concordia, the university became the owner and steward of the cave and 3.5 acres of surrounding land.
The amount of time that the Friesenhahn Cave was used by the sabre-toothed cats as their home is uncertain, but the last cats died around 11,700-13,000 years ago. Excavators also proposed that the cats carried prey into the cave or pulled them. A great number of teeth and bones of juvenile mammoths (Mammuthus columbi) have been discovered. The existence of such remains indicates that young mammoths were selectively killed as a primary food source by the scimitar-toothed cats. The American mastodon, tapir, bear, and deer are animal fossils that have been found on the cave floor and walls. More than thirty genera of mammals, reptiles , and birds from the late Pleistocene Epoch (Ice Age) have been found.
In the various layers of deposits, at least nine genera of fossil rodents were found in the cave. Animals that used the cave for shelter, hunted for food, or were prey to larger mammals could be reflected by the large number of rodents. Other notable finds at Friesenhahn Cave include the Geochelone wilsoni 's rare fossilized turtle shell, and the Mylohyus nasutus long-nosed peccary.
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