Persistence Cave: Windy And Full Of Fossils

Jun 12, 2015

Wind Cave National Park is now home to more than one significant cave.

Today Pikas live only in alpine areas of North America. But, during the last ice age they also called the Black Hills home.

Persistence Cave discovered at the park in 2004 and kept secret for over a decade is now being explored for the first time.

An initial sample shows the soil near the cave’s entrance contains a trove of fossils, including at least 22 different species of animals dating back at least 11,000 years.   Paleontologists from various institutions including the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs have joined in the study.

Rod Horrocks is the Physical Scientist at Wind Cave National Park. He says the fossils in this cave help fill in a previously missing chapter of Black Hills history.
 
“What we’re seeing as the vegetation changed the fauna changed the animals changed.  So, this is going to be really important to kind of fill in this missing gap that we have,” says Horrocks.

Persistence Cave is also blowing air just like its neighbor Wind Cave.  Airflow in and out of a cave is an indicator of large caverns below.   Park officials plan to access the cave for the first time later this summer.

Marc Ohms with Wind Cave National Park first found Persistence Cave in 2004.  He describes the experience like winning the lottery.   Ohms is set to be among the first group of explores in the new cave.

You can hear more about the cave and the trove of fossils being excavated by clicking play below.