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GRAND CANYON NATURE NOTES
September 1934Volume 9, Number 6


HISTORY NOTE

A "cliff-dwelling" which has obviously been made by man of post-Columbian times at the isolated junction of the main and Little Colorado Rivers was reported a few years ago by Mr. Emery Kolb of Grand Canyon. While making geological studies in the area this past year, the writer was able to relocate this interesting site and to make the accompanying photographs of it. Built beneath the cliff of Tapeats sandstone southeast of the confluence of the rivers, this structure was both well concealed and well protected from the elements. Who built it and when are the questions that cannot be answered but the small iron plow shown in the picture testifies to the probable intentions of some pioneer to plow the Little Colorado River delta. Only those who are acquainted with the extreme solitude and isolation of the locality and the difficulties of access to it can truly appreciate the hermit-like qualities of any man who sought existence in such a place.

- E. D. McKee -



NOTE ON PALEONTOLOGY

Throughout the Grand Canyon is found a limestone layer of three to four foot thickness which everywhere contains in great abundance the shells of a small sea animal and which is both covered and underlaid by beds of red and yellow sandstone, probably of continental origin. It is in the middle of the uppermost formation which is known as the Kaibab.

The remarkable uniformity of the limestone referred to as seen at Fossil Mountain, Hilltop and Seligman to the west and along the Hermit, Bright Angel and Kaibab trails to the east, is striking. Even more astounding, however, is the great abundance of the small clam-like shells (Pelecypods of the genus Schizodus) throughout this layer. With over a hundred individuals included in a block of one cubic foot, it is apparent that in the thirty or more miles over which their remains are scattered, they must occur by the millions or even billions. In the rocks both above and below this limestone ledge, however, this species is not to be found, thus indicating not only its prolific nature and the favorable conditions under which it apparently lived, but also the great time which must have elapsed during the forming of that thin layer of limestone and the consequent complete wiping out of that host of animals.

In an earlier article in Nature Notes (1) the writer pointed out that although most of the fossil shells in the Kaibab formation have been petrified - replaced by the mineral quartz in various forms - occasionally species retaining their original shell material are discovered. He pointed out also, that two specimens of the genus Chonetes, had been found retaining what probably was their original color - a beautiful pale pink. Recently one of the shells of the genus Schizodus described above was found also retaining what appeared to be its original color - in this case, a pale blue. Since this likewise represents an animal that has long been extinct the color observation seems deserving of record and aids in giving a touch of reality to the ancient Permian sea and its fauna.


(1) McKee, E. D., Fossil Mountain, Grand Canyon Nature Notes, Vol. 5, No. 2, p. 18, December 1930.

- E. D. McKee -


ETHNOLOGICAL NOTE

The Havasupai Indians are undoubtedly among the best basket makers in northern Arizona so the material which they use in this work is of considerable interest. According to Spier (1) the black fibre is obtained from the Devil's Claw, Martynia sp., and the white from Cat's Claw, Acacia greggii, and less commonly from cottonwood and willow.

In discussing the making of baskets recently, the writer was told by Dottie Watahomigie that she often used "willow" and that this made a whiter basket than did the cottonwood. Later when Dottie brought in specimens of the "willow", however, it was seen that they were the straight stems of Rhus trilobata (?), a plant much used by Indians of the west coast and commonly known as Squaw Bush. In the Grand Canyon area this plant, possibly more than one species, is found both on the Tonto Platform and on the South Rim.


(1) Spier, Leslie - Havasupai Ethnography - American Museum of National History, Vol. XXIX, Part III, pp. 128, 134, 1928.

- B. H. McKee -


RECENT PUBLICATION

For the benefit of botanists interested in the lower plants of the region, the editor wishes to call attention to the paper - "The Phytoplankton of Some Arizona Pools and Lakes" by Wm. R. Taylor and H. S. Colton, published in the American Journal of Botany, XV. Although printed in December 1928, it has just recently come to the attention of this office. It includes a statement of species of plankton according to locality, including references to the Kaibab Plateau and Painted Desert, and it presents an interesting discussion of ecological conditions.

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