Indiana University Bloomington

Center for Underwater Science

East National Park, Dominican Republic

East National Park is located in the southeastern corner of the Dominican Republic. This park contains some of the most fascinating Taino sites ever discovered as well as one of the most unique flooded caverns ever found. The Padre Nuestro cavern located within the Padre Nuestro Complex of flooded caverns was recently found to contain the remains of multiple species of extinct fauna as well as lithics (stone tools) from some of the earliest inhabitants of the island. The recent discovery of the lithics makes Padre Nuestro one of the most important prehistoric sites in the caribbean.



Padre Nuestro Cavern

Indiana University has been studying Padre
Nuestro cavern as a Taino water gathering site since 1996. Recently there have been several discoveries which make this site very important. There are several sets of extinct sloth remains which have been very well preserved within the cavern. In July of 2009 the remains of a small primate and lithics made by early inhabitants of the island were found in the same cave. Having evidence of prehistoric man and extinct faunal remains so close together could give a great deal of insight into the relationship of early settlers and the megafauna on the island.




Chicho Cavern

Chicho cavern is a much more open cavern in the Padre Nuestro Complex. The water's surface is open to the air with the cavern ceiling above. There is a population on bats and tarantulas inhabiting the dry section of the cavern along with several other millipedes and insects. At the entrance to the water there is a pile of rubble and debris washed into the cavern by the rain that provides shelter and food for a small population of an unidentified species of crab which is absent from the nearby Padre Nuestro cavern. Chicho is believed to have been an important water gathering site for the Taino people, which is evident by the presence of shards of broken pottery and intact potizas.