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Sat Aug 17, 2019, 05:16 PM

Genetic study implicates humans in demise of prehistoric cave bear

AUGUST 15, 2019 / 9:03 AM / 2 DAYS AGO

Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Genetic research that reconstructed the past population dynamics of the cave bear, a prominent prehistoric denizen of Europe, implicates Homo sapiens rather than climate cooling in the Ice Age extinction of these brawny plant-loving beasts.

Scientists said on Thursday they obtained genome data from 59 cave bears from bones unearthed at 14 sites in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland.

Using this, they detected a population downturn roughly 50,000 years ago coinciding with the arrival of our species in eastern Europe and then a dramatic decline starting about 40,000 years ago coinciding with the spread of Homo sapiens throughout Europe. It ultimately went extinct about 20,000 years ago.

The cave bear (scientific name Ursus spelaeus) was one of the charismatic inhabitants of Ice Age Europe alongside animals like the cave lion, woolly rhino, woolly mammoth and steppe bison. It was as big as a polar bear but strictly herbivorous. Firmly in the consciousness of humans in Europe, the bear was depicted in prehistoric cave paintings.

There has been a scientific debate about whether a cooling climate doomed the bears by reducing vegetation central to their diet or whether it was human encroachment including hunting and taking over the caves where the bears hibernated and gave birth.


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Reply Genetic study implicates humans in demise of prehistoric cave bear (Original post)
Judi Lynn Aug 17 OP
littlemissmartypants Aug 17 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Aug 17, 2019, 09:24 PM

1. Interesting. Thanks, Judi Lynn. nt

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