Inspired by a prehistoric novel, “Clan of the Cave Bear” by an author from Oregon named Jean Auel, about ancient people in Europe including Neanderthals and cro-magnons several thousand years ago, I decided to try writing a Prehistoric novel myself. 

Being a Nevada historian, I became familiar with the incredible story of the partially mummified remains of the famous Spirit Cave Man discovered at the Grimes Point area near Fallon in 1940.

The title of the book I wrote in 2003 was “Legends of Spirit Cave.” 

For several years it has sold very well to people interested in learning how people lived here in Nevada over 10,000 years ago. 

The book starts out with the hunting of the last mammoth to be killed for food in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. This is based on events that likely did occur in those days, since people and mammoths did coexist in Nevada during that time.

The story continues on following the hunters, family, pets and shamans through the marshes and deserts of ancient Nevada to Pyramid Lake, Lake, Lake Tahoe and finally to the winter camping place in the Grimes Point region east of where Fallon is today. 

The Grandfather of the group was named Mauwee. During the cold of the Nevada winter Mauwee passed away and his remains were buried in a cave which has become known as Spirit Cave.

Archaeologists and scientists who first studied the amazingly old remains of the Spirit Cave Man were correct about the fact that the remains were over 10,000 years old, making it the oldest mummified human remains ever found in North America.

What was incorrect however, was the early assertion that the man was not related to any known existing Native American Indians. 

At the time the remains were found in 1940, there was no technology available to do any DNA testing to determine racial identity for the person. 

Studies were done, including a facial reconstruction of the man’s skull, complete with drawings of what the man may have looked like when he was alive. The determination at that time was that the man did not resemble any existing Native American people. 

For many years, local Native American tribes resisted any DNA testing, since using tissue from the remains was required to perform DNA analysis. The tribes did not want any tissue removed from the remains to perform these tests.

Finally, in October 2015, Eske Willerslev, world famous DNA scientist, was employed to collect bone and tooth samples from the remains with the permission of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe. DNA analysis indicated that the remains were similar to North and South American indigenous groups. Based on this new information, on Nov. 22, 2016, the remains of the Spirit Cave Man were repatriated to the local tribes for reburial.

I have recently visited Spirit Cave and found that someone had packed the cave full with shredded sagebrush so no one could ever enter the cave again.  

At the Nevada State Museum, I mentioned this to Eugene M.  Hattori, PhD, Curator of Anthropology at the Museum. He said he did not know this had been done or who had filled the cave with sagebrush. 

I then asked Doctor Hattori if perhaps the tribes had returned the remains to the place in Spirit Cave where they were found in 1940, but he could not comment on that possibility.

Hopefully, now the Spirit Cave Man may rest in peace and all this new information will not detract from the story in my prehistoric novel about the life of The Spirit Cave Man and his family over 10,000 years ago.

This article is by Dayton Author and Historian, Dennis Cassinelli. You can order his books at a discount on his blog at denniscassinelli.com. Just click on “order books”