The late Pleistocene and Holocene vertebrate fossil record for the northern Mojave Desert (southwestern USA) is known primarily from five sites. Until now, only two of these have been radiometrically dated, and temporal placement of the others has been based on stratigraphic or biostratigraphic correlation, leading to circular interpretations of mammal extirpations in the Mojave. Here, I report a revised and complete faunal list for Mescal Cave, along with 22 AMS radiocarbon dates from 5 vertebrate taxa recovered from its deposits. The results reported here demonstrate time-averaging in Mescal Cave encompassing around ~ 34 ka, a maximum age 14 ka older and minimum age 10 ka younger than previously thought. Furthermore, radiocarbon analyses suggest local extirpation of Marmota flaviventris around 3.6 cal ka BP, considerably younger than expected based on regional patterns of warming and aridification in the Mojave. Conversely, radiocarbon dates from another presumably boreal species, Neotoma cinerea, are considerably older than expected, suggesting either that climate change at this site did not directly mirror regional patterns, that habitat requirements for these two species are not strictly boreal or cool/mesic as has often been assumed, or that local edaphic conditions and/or competitive interactions overrode the regional climatic controls on theses species' distribution.