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

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, in the days of our ancestors Neanderthals in Eurasia was inhabited by enormous cave bears. They were 30% larger than the present brown bear, and different from modern species by the shape of the forehead and position of teeth. As the current bears, they mainly eat vegetation and honey, but in some cases could the attack on the Neanderthals. Often especially bloody battle happened inside the caves, because they served as a refuge for huge predators, and for 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 were extinct for quite another reason.

Cave bear

The body length of the cave bears reached 2.7 meters, while the length of the current brown bears equal to about 2 meters. In addition to the large body of prehistoric predators different from their descendants a steeper forehead and extreme lack teeth at the front of the jaws. But in all other respects they were similar to modern relatives — went for a short and strong legs, ate plants, honey and occasionally meat of other animals.

Scientists called the ancient of bears “cave” because their bones are usually found inside caves. It is believed that ancient predators roamed the meadows and forests, and climbed mountains. But at night they, according to the location of the majority of remains returned to the safe caves. Most of the skeletons of ancient bears were discovered inside was found in 1975 “Bear cave”, located in the North-West of Romania. In the entire history of the researchers found there was about 140 of bear skeletons.

Extinct animals

According to scientists, the duration of the life of cave bears was about 20 years old. However, due to frequent run-ins with the Neanderthals, ancient predators die much earlier of their death were scored with sharp spears and ate. Around 2010, scientists believed that the cause of the extinction of cave bears became the ancient people, but recently made the discovery proved that our ancestors are not to blame. The death of the ancient creatures blame only the structure of their body and cold winter that hundreds of years ago were very common.

According to scientific journal Science Advances, recently Spanish scientists have studied the structure of the skulls of cave bears and noticed a very interesting feature. It turned out that unlike modern bears, the ancient predators were truly enormous sinuses — holes in the skull, located in the center of the nose. They took from 30 to 60% of the surface of their skulls and, according to scientists, warmed within the nose cold air. Thanks to this feature, the bears could fall into a long slumber and quietly wait for the end of severe winters.

However, over time the harsh winters became longer, and the large sinuses began to change the shape of the skull bears. According to scientists, on their foreheads there were bulges, because of which the skulls strength is significantly reduced. They become brittle enough that the bears was painful to chew the food with his front teeth and they used only the rear. Due to the fact that the winters became longer, the bears woke up early from Spacek and found that they remained edible plants. And to hunt the animals as before, they could not, because of the fragility of the skull they have a greatly reduced bite force. Based on the above, the researchers suggested that cave bears were not killed by the ancient people, and banal hunger.