This up-to-date exploration of vertebrate cave life during the Ice Age presents important studies on North American cave paleontology. Although not intended to be all-inclusive, the book contains essays that range from overviews of the significance of cave fossils to reports about new localities and studies of specific vertebrate groups. The essays describe how cave remains record the evolutionary patterns and biogeography of organisms, how they can help reconstruct past ecosystems and climates, and how they provide an important record of the evolution of modern ecosystems. There is also information about traces of human activity found in caves. The book's eclectic nature should appeal to students, professional and amateur paleontologists, biologists, geologists, speleologists, and cavers.
Caves can preserve biotic remains in a stable tomb-like setting for thousands or even millions of years, thereby providing an intriguing, though very selective, record for paleontologists. Fossils help date cave deposits and determine the time the cave opened to the surface. Caves also preserve parts of biological communities that once made use of the cave or the area around it, yielding useful information about ancient ecosystems.