Claw marks of an extinct creature have been discovered in a Spanish cave — a breakthrough

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4 min readFeb 7

Scientists have been investigating caves in southeastern Spain. In one of them they found traces of the claws of a bear that went extinct some 28,000 years ago. Scientists say the discovery sheds new light on our knowledge of prehistory.

The cave bear — [Photo: Sergiodlarosa, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

The cave bear is a species of mammal from the bear family that lived in Europe during the Middle Paleolithic period. The animal’s name is linked to their distinctive lifestyle, as the creatures mainly inhabited caves.

It was in European caves that their remains were usually found. Scientists have so far suspected that while it may have inhabited the entire continent, the largest habitats were in the territory of present-day Germany, Switzerland and Slovakia.

Cave bears played an important role in the lives of early humans

During the Pleistocene era, cave bears were a very common species. Recent studies have shown that about 300,000 years ago, when the first representatives of Homo sapiens appeared in Europe, there were frequent interactions between the first humans and Ursus spelaeus. That’s because our ancestors also sought refuge in caves, and bears lived in both warmer and colder parts of the continent.

The scientific debate about cave bears has been going on for many years. Researchers have wondered what role these animals played in the life of H. sapiens. On the one hand, there is a hypothesis that assumes that these large mammals were the object of worship by prehistoric humans. On the other hand, archaeological evidence has shown that humans hunted cave bears to provide food, and even separated the skin from the bones to make clothes for themselves.

[Photo: Maurizio Merlo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Scientists are not sure when the last representative of the species became extinct

Until now, it was also not known when this species became extinct. Some researchers leaned toward the theory that U. spelaeus became extinct due to human activity about 11,000 years ago…

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