Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 4:40 PM


DONOVAN, Stephen K., Geology, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Darwinweg 2, Leiden, 2333 CR, Netherlands and BAALBERGEN, Els, Leiden Universiteit, Leiden, 2333 BE, Netherlands,

The Red Hills Road Cave (RHRC) or fissure is a very incomplete, highly fossiliferous, karstic feature in the Tertiary White Limestone Group northwest from Kingston, in the parish of St. Andrew, eastern Jamaica. The cave was found by students from the Universities of Liverpool and the West Indies in 1988. A remnant of the cave is all that is left after road construction sometime earlier, but what can be seen suggests a bottle-shaped cave or fissure which acted as a trap for the accumulation of vertebrates, land snails and soil arthropods. The site probably functioned as a bottle dungeon, filling with water during tropical storms and hurricanes when live and dead terrestrial organisms would have been washed in. Only those taxa with an adequately mineralized skeleton were preserved. The fauna is unusually diverse and is still being analysed. The site is Late Pleistocene, about 30,000 years old.

The RHRC is the only Jamaican Pleistocene cave deposit to have yielded more terrestrial macroarthropods than just crab fingers. The fauna includes four species of millipede (Rhinocricus sp. or spp., Chondrotropis sp., Caraibodesmus verrucosus (Pocock) and Cyclodesmus sp. cf. C. porcellanus Pocock), four species of isopod (Pseudarmadillo sp., Venezillo boonae Van Name, and Philoscia spp. 1 and 2), the land crab Sesarma sp. cf. S. cookei Hartnoll and robust parts of four species of insects (three taxa of fly puparia and one possible beetle elytra). This unique sample of arthropods from the leaf litter is still very incomplete due to the loss of those taxa lacking calcification of the exoskeleton.