San josecito cave and its paleoecological contributions for quaternary studies in mexico

Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales, Eileen Johnson, J. Alberto Cruz

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4 Scopus citations


San Josecito Cave (2250 m elevation) is located nearby Aramberri, Nuevo León, northeastern Mexico, with excavations occurring in 1935–1941 and 1990. It is a paleontological cave and the significance of its faunal data rests in the understanding of the Quaternary ecosystems of the Mexican Plateau and the Southern Plains. This significance is underpinned by a consideration of associated stratigraphic and geochronological data. The fauna is composed of mollusks, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. More than 30 extinct vertebrate species have been identified, constituting one of the most important Quaternary localities in the Americas. Radiocarbon dates and faunal correlations indicate the excavated deposits represent an interval of time between 45,000 and 11,00014 C years BP. The current synthesis demonstrates that the previous view of the assemblage as a single local fauna is erroneous and that, instead, several successive local faunas are present within a stratigraphic framework. This finding underscores the need for detailed studies of single localities in building paleoenvironmental models. As a corollary, results point to the necessity of including all vertebrate classes represented from a locality in building those models. In addition, the field and analytical methodologies demonstrate the importance of very detailed paleontological excavations, with precise spatial and temporal controls, to assess the taphonomic history of a locality, construct a stratigraphic and geochronological framework, and infer the paleoecological conditions during the time span considered based on the number of local faunas represented. The recognition of San Josecito Cave as an important Late Pleistocene vertebrate paleontological locality is enhanced with the consideration of its faunal data for paleoenvironment reconstruction and possible contribution to Quaternary paleoclimatic modeling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Cave stratigraphy and taphonomy
  • Late pleistocene
  • Non-analog fauna
  • Paleoenvironmental reconstruction
  • Sierra madre oriental


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