General, Research, Technology

What were the cave bears and why did they die out?

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, during the time of our distant ancestors of Neanderthals, huge territories inhabited in Eurasia cave bears. They were 30% larger than current brown bears.and differed from modern individuals in the shape of their forehead and the arrangement of their teeth. Like the current bears, they mainly fed on vegetation and honey, but in some cases they could attack Neanderthals. Especially often bloody battles took place inside the caves, because they served as a refuge for both huge predators and ancient people. It would be logical to assume that the cave bears were exterminated by our ancestors, but recently scientists from the USA, Spain and Australia found that they became extinct for a completely different reason.

Cave bears often encountered ancient people and died under the blows of sharp spears.

Cave Bears (Ursus spelaeus) - the ancestors of brown bears extinct about 15,000 years ago. They lived in caves and were often hunted by Neanderthals. About how our ancestors killed these giants, I told in this article

Cave bear

The body length of the cave bears reached 2.7meters, while the length of the current brown bears is approximately 2 meters. In addition to the large body, prehistoric predators differed from their descendants by a steeper forehead and the absence of extreme teeth on the front of the jaws. And in everything else, they were similar to modern relatives - walked on short and strong legs, ate plants, honey and occasionally the meat of other animals.

In the image, you can see that on the skull there are no extreme teeth on the upper and lower jaw

Scientists nicknamed the ancient bears "cave"because their bones are usually found inside caves. It is believed that during the day the ancient predators walked through meadows and forests, and also climbed the mountains. But at night, judging by the location of most of the remains, they returned to safe caves. Most of the skeletons of ancient bears were found inside the Bear Cave, found in 1975, located in northwestern Romania. Throughout history, researchers found there about 140 bear skeletons.

Interesting fact: cave bears lived even in Russia. Their remains were discovered on the territory from the Baltic Sea coast to the Ural Mountains, as well as on the Volga Upland, located on the right bank of the Volga River

Extinct animals

According to scientists, the lifespan of cavemenBears was about 20 years old. However, due to frequent skirmishes with Neanderthals, ancient predators died much earlier - they were beaten to death with sharp spears and eaten. Since about 2010, scientists believed that the ancient people became the cause of the extinction of the cave bears, but a recent discovery proved that our ancestors were not to blame for anything. Only the structure of their body and the cold winters, which hundreds of years ago were a very common occurrence, should be blamed for the death of ancient creatures.

In cold times, even our distant ancestors had a hard time. It is believed that worries helped them survive difficult moments, but in what way did it manifest itself?

According to the science journal Science Advances,Recently, Spanish scientists studied the structure of the skulls of cave bears and noticed a very interesting feature in them. It turned out that, unlike modern bears, ancient predators had truly huge sinuses - openings in the skull located in the area of ​​the nose. They occupied from 30 to 60% of the surface of their skull and, according to scientists, heated the cold air entering the nose. Thanks to this feature, the bears could fall into prolonged hibernation and calmly wait for the end of harsh winters.

No matter how scientists consider it, ancient people also clearly influenced the number of cave bears

However, over time, harsh winters becamelonger, and large sinuses began to change the shape of the skulls of bears. According to scientists, bulges appeared on their foreheads, because of which the strength of the skulls decreased significantly. They became so fragile that it was painful for the bears to chew food with their front teeth and they only used the back ones. Due to the fact that the winters became longer, the bears woke up earlier from hibernation and found that there were no edible plants left for them. And they could no longer hunt animals as before, because due to the fragility of the skull, their bite strength was greatly reduced. Based on all of the above, scientists suggested that the cave bears were killed not by ancient people, but by banal hunger.

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We can say that scientists managed to solve yetone riddle of the ancient world. But recently, scientists are interested in another issue related to the life of bears. In a study of statistics from 2000 to 2015, they found that bears began to attack people more often. Fortunately, this riddle was quickly solved and the answer can be found in this material. At the same time, you will find out what is common between former Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and the bears.