Parasites in Antelope Cave

Author(s): Karl Reinhard; Adauto Araujo

Year: 2015


Human and animal coprolites revealed an interesting group of parasites, some of which have never been found before in archaeological context. The Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, Dermacentor andersoni, were found in two human coprolites. These were probably crushed and ingested. Acanthocephalan eggs found in the human coprolites were consistent with Macracanthorhynchus ingens. This is the first well-documented infection among Ancestral Puebloans and suggests that people at Antelope Cave had different preferences in insect foods than at other sites in the Pueblo region. Eggs of the intestinal pinworm (Enterobius vermicularis) were found in the coprolites. This was the only species specific to humans found. Pinworm reached remarkably high levels at some Ancestral Pueblo sites. At Antelope Cave, 23% of the coprolites were positive for this species. This indicates that the people who used the cave lived in crowded conditions at least temporarily during parts of the year. Two of four dog coprolites were positive for the canid whipworm, Trichuris vulpis. This was the first find of this parasite in the archaeological record. In conclusion, the people who used the site show a unique mixture of the Great Basin paleoepidemiology dominated by acanthocephalans and that of the Ancestral Puebloans dominated by pinworm.

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Cite this Record

Parasites in Antelope Cave. Adauto Araujo, Karl Reinhard. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 394881)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;