University of North Carolina
Porcupine Cave is a multiroom limestone cave located in the southern Rocky Mountains of Park County, central Colorado, at an elevation of 2900 m. The cave was sealed for millennia until mining operations created an entrance in the late 1800s. Paleontological excavations, initiated by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in 1986, were continued by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. These excavations produced a rich collection of fossil vertebrates ranging in age from the early to the middle Pleistocene. Only fossils of the Carnivora and some of the rodent fauna have been reported previously (Barnosky and Rasmussen, 1988; Wood and Barnosky, 1994; Anderson, 1996; Barnosky et al., 1996; Bell and Barnosky, 2000).
Although mammalian remains dominate the vertebrate fauna, nearly 200 avian fossils were also recovered from the deposits. This avifauna is reported here and represents at least 45 taxa, the richest and most diverse assemblage of this age known from the intermountain western United States. Analysis of this avifauna provides new information on the composition of high-elevation avian communities in the early to middle Pleistocene in this region.
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