Trap Cave in Wyoming, considered by many paleontologists to be a treasure trove of fossils, is being re-opened to scientists.

The entrance to the cave is only 15 feet long and 12 feet wide, and hidden by boulders, sage and scrub brush. However, that small entry leads to a much larger structure - the cave itself is 120 feet wide and 85 feet deep.

It is this camouflage which gives trap cave it's name - it is quite easy for animals to fall through the entrance, plummeting to their deaths. The bottom of the cave is littered with the bones of fallen animals, piled up to 30 feet in depth. Skeletal remains of bears, lions, cheetahs, mammoths, camels and more cover the floor of the cave. These artifacts are as much as 100,000 years old.

A team of paleontologists visited the cave once in the 1970's. The cave was closed by the Bureau of Land Management soon after, preventing follow-up research. The government agency recently announced they will allow a team of researchers back into the natural cache of fossils.

Julie Meachen, a paleontologist from Des Moines University, will lead the first expedition back to the site. For two weeks, her team will descend into the cave once a day, packing boxes with artifacts, which will be hauled to a base camp at the surface.

DNA analysis has advanced a great deal since the 1970's, when the cave was last investigated. Modern technology will allow researchers to understand information about the animals that would not have been possible four decades ago.

"[S]cientists have identified not only how old the bones and fossils are, but also what kind of environments the extinct animals lived in. Evidence from the cave reveals that within a span of just 500 years, the region's climate went from glacial to the current high desert," the National Park Service wrote about the region in Montana and Wyoming.

Roughly 13,000 years ago, rising temperatures during the end of the ice age, and rising human population levels led to the disappearance of many species. DNA analysis may assist investigators learning more about this Pleistocene extinction.

The expedition will take place this summer between late July and early August 2014.

"Researchers... plan to reopen previous excavations in the cave to conduct ongoing paleontological, genetic, paleoclimatological research over the next three summers. Access to the cave will only be granted to the project principals and members of their crew with specific training," the Bureau of Land Management announced.

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