Tech & Science : Ancient cave bears were pushed to extinction by humans, not climate - PressFrom - Australia
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Tech & Science Ancient cave bears were pushed to extinction by humans, not climate

05:45  17 august  2019
05:45  17 august  2019 Source:   bgr.com

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Schünemann’s team extracted ancient DNA from 59 cave bear fossils from 14 sites across Europe and sequenced the mitochondrial genome – a small portion of the bears ’ genetic Combining these with 64 published sequences, they could model the population dynamics of cave bears prior to extinction .

Humans pushed cave bears to extinction , their DNA suggests. Add to list. On my list. Now the bears ’ bones are scattered in the caves they once occupied. They went extinct around 20,000 years ago. What killed off the bears is a question that’s gotten a lot of attention from scientists.

Ancient cave bears were pushed to extinction by humans, not climate© Provided by Penske Media Corporation cave bear fossil

Cave bears no longer exist. They went extinct tens of thousands of years ago, and all we have left of the massive ancient creatures are fossils. Figuring exactly why they disappeared has proven to be a significant challenge for researchers, with some believing that a changing climate ultimately doomed the species.

Now, a new study published in Scientific Reports paints a much different picture of the demise of the great bears, and it’s looking more and more like human ancestors were to blame.

Cave bears were intimidating beasts, with males weighing in at well over a thousand pounds and some specimens possibly weighing as much as double that. You wouldn’t want to run into one, especially if you were a Neanderthal searching for a cave to spend the night. It’s this conflict that may have ultimately pushed the animals to extinction.

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Cave bears returned to the caves where they were born , Schünemann said. As human populations grew, requiring more shelter for longer periods of time, humans may have ejected the bears from their birth caves . Schünemann would not totally absolve climate change. There “might be still a synergistic

Humans pushed cave bears to extinction , their DNA suggests. Add to list. On my list. Now the bears ’ bones are scattered in the caves they once occupied. They went extinct around 20 Some researchers have proposed that climate change felled the bears . Ice sheets advanced and shrank

For their study, the researchers examined the remains of 59 cave bear specimens found across more than a dozen fossil sites throughout Europe. By sampling the bones and obtaining the genome information, the researchers were able to plot out a timeline showing the rise and fall of the bear population, with a particularly dire drop in population right around the time that Homo sapiens were beginning to spread across the continent.

The bear has appeared in cave paintings dated from the time early humans were moving throughout Europe, so we know that the two species came into contact frequently. Combined with the fact that the bears began to die off as soon as humans arrived, the data suggests that ancient people were indeed successfully hunting the bears.

It’s not exactly a smoking gun — and it’s possible or even likely that multiple factors contributed to the decline of the cave bear population — but the timing seems a bit too convenient to be a mere coincidence.

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