Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Mylroie, E. John

Committee Member

Dewey, P. Chris

Committee Member

Rodgers III, C. John

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


A diverse assemblage of exquisitely-preserved fossil animals and plants were collected from Sawmill Sink blue hole in Abaco, Bahamas. More than 40 species have been identified including extinct tortoise, an extant crocodile, and birds that no longer live in The Bahamas. This study addresses the mechanisms that preserve fossils in blue holes and discusses paleoecological implications from faunal diversity and sediment composition. Blue holes are waterilled caves with surface openings that may trap animals and surface-driven vegetation. In Sawmill Sink the talus cone within the halocline acts as a substrate on which organics collect that drive microbe ecology. Their byproducts, hydrogen sulfide and anoxia, inhibit biological destruction and delay necrolysis. Low tidal flow and quiescent water conditions further enhance stability of the depositional environment. In addition, subaerial conditions during glacial lowstands allowed owls to roost; their deposits formed a rich assemblage of small fossil vertebrates.