Tales from the Crypt

The Grand Canyon is grand for many reasons: stratigraphy, whitewater, the South Kaibab Trail, the Little Colorado and solitude, just to name a few. But one of the least-known treasures found in the grandest of canyons is the abundance of mummified mammals dating back to the Ice Age. Hidden in caves and perfectly preserved in 0-percent humidity, these paleo-critters offer us an intact glimpse of the Grand Canyon’s natural history and direct tangibility of a world past. Researchers studying these remains are often awe-struck by their remarkable level of preservation, and this documenteer has observed more than a few scientists left in a state of disbelief. Here’s a look at just a few recently discovered specimens that will surely help to make your busy day feel less significant.

A mummified Townsend's big-eared bat roosts on the cave wall. 
A ringtail cat. 

Robin Henderek and Ben Tobin making a 3-D model of a preserved racoon skeleton. 

A fox, which perhaps met its demise falling through a hole in the ceiling of the cave. 
The perfectly intact remains of fox mummy. 
A skull is identified as that of a racoon.