The Importance of Pollen Concentration Values from Coprolites: An Analysis of Southwest Texas Samples

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This paper presents the information gained from a palynological analysis of 38 coprolites from the lower Pecos region in southwestern Texas. The study was conducted to determine the subsistence and diet of a group of hunter-gatherers inhabiting Baker Cave, Val Verde County, at approximately A.D. 900. The Baker Cave inhabitants used what was available in their environment for their subsistence and medicinal needs. The probable economic pollen types observed in the samples include the mustard family (Brassicaceae), sotol (Dasylirion), a sunflower type (high-spine Asteraceae), sagebrush (Artemisia), and grass (Gramineae). An important aspect of this study also provides an example of the application of pollen concentration to coprolite studies. This study indicates that coprolite samples containing over 100,000 pollen grains per gram of material usually contain high frequencies of a few pollen types, most of which are economic and were ingested only a few days before the sample was deposited. Samples which contain under 100,000 pollen grains per gram of material may contain pollen types which were ingested many days before the sample was deposited, or are only background, uneconomic, pollen types.

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