Cave bears from the Carpathians as omnivorous as modern bears Public release date: 7-Jan-2008, Contact: Erik Trinkaus
Rather than being gentle giants, new research reveals that Pleistocene cave bears ate both plants and animals and competed for food with the other contemporary large carnivores of the time: hyaenas, lions, wolves, and our own human ancestors.
The study, conducted by an international group of researchers, including Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, will appear the week of Jan. 7 in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Cave bears (Ursus spelaeus) have long fascinated paleontologists and anthropologists, given the abundance of their large skeletal remains in Pleistocene hibernation caves across western Eurasia. For the past 30 years, studies of their bones and teeth, and especially the nitrogen isotopes in their bone protein, have concluded that they were largely vegetarian.