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Doppes D.,Reiss Engelhorn Museen | Rabeder G.,Institute For Palaontologie | Stiller M.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Stiller M.,Pennsylvania State University
Quaternary International | Year: 2011

This study presents a cohesive review of the existing radiometric data as well as morphological and genetic analysis of bear remains from ten high-alpine caves, mostly from the Middle Würmian Interstadial complex, roughly corresponding to the marine isotope stage (MIS) 3 and dating back between 65,000-30,000 years before present. Today these caves are located in an area without any vegetation, which could not provide the herbivorous bears with sufficient food resources. It therefore can be concluded that the Middle Würmian in the Alps had to be warmer than it is today. Furthermore, congruent and conflicting data from soil formation in loess sequences as well as sinter data in caves are discussed in more detail to evaluate this hypothesis. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. Source

Doppes D.,Reiss Engelhorn Museen | Pacher M.,University of Vienna
Quaternary International | Year: 2014

Sixteen sites yielding radiocarbon dated brown bears from Alpine regions of Austria are described. Samples have been dated by the AMS-method. For each find, a description of the site, dating and the context of the find are given. The time frame of the finds ranges from Preboreal to the Middle Ages. The climatic context and palaeobiological aspects are discussed. There is no correlation between altitude of the site and chronological age of the bear remains. Comparative data suggest the majority of bears in Alpine cave sites are females. Remains of Holocene brown bears were found in denning caves and in natural pits. Hence, they are bears that did not survive the winter or bears that fell into a natural shaft. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. Source

Stiller M.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Baryshnikov G.,Russian Academy of Sciences | Bocherens H.,University of Tubingen | Grandal D'Anglade A.,University of La Coruna | And 11 more authors.
Molecular Biology and Evolution | Year: 2010

The causes of the late Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions are still enigmatic. Although the fossil record can provide approximations for when a species went extinct, the timing of its disappearance alone cannot resolve the causes and mode of the decline preceding its extinction. However, ancient DNA analyses can reveal population size changes over time and narrow down potential causes of extinction. Here, we present an ancient DNA study comparing late Pleistocene population dynamics of two closely related species, cave and brown bears. We found that the decline of cave bears started approximately 25,000 years before their extinction, whereas brown bear population size remained constant. We conclude that neither the effects of climate change nor human hunting alone can be responsible for the decline of the cave bear and suggest that a complex of factors including human competition for cave sites lead to the cave bear's extinction. © 2010 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. Source

Musshoff F.,University of Bonn | Musshoff F.,Forensic Toxicological Center | Brockmann C.,University of Bonn | Madea B.,University of Bonn | And 2 more authors.
Forensic Science International | Year: 2013

The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo contain over 1800 preserved bodies: friars, priests and laypeople including men, women, and children. The bodies were accessible to family members who could visit the deceased and commemorate them through prayers. The "Sicily Mummy Project" analyzed hair samples from 38 mummies to determine the presence of ethyl glucuronide (EtG) using a routine procedure in our accredited laboratory of liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. The limit of quantification was 2.3. pg/mg.The hair samples were from 1.5 to 12. cm in length. All samples were analyzed in 2 segments (seg. A 0-3. cm and seg. B the remainder). Samples <4. cm in length were cut in half. In 31 out of 76 segments positive results were obtained for EtG, with concentrations between 2.5 and 531.3. pg/mg (mean 73.8, median 13.3. pg/mg). In 14 cases positive results were obtained for both segments. In one sample a positive result was obtained for segment A but not for segment B and in a further two samples only for segment B. The results indicate that EtG analyses can be performed on mummy hair samples even several hundred years after death to identify evidence for significant alcohol consumption during life. © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. Source

Munzel S.C.,University of Tubingen | Rivals F.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social Iphes | Rivals F.,Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies | Pacher M.,University of Vienna | And 4 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2014

Several types of bears lived in Europe during the Late Pleistocene. Some of them, such as cave bears ( Ursus s. spelaeus and Ursus ingressus), did not survive after about 25,000 years ago, while others are still extant, such as brown bear ( Ursus arctos). Our article aims at a better understanding of the palaeoecology of these large "carnivores" and focuses on two regions, the Ach valley in the Swabian Jura (SW-Germany) with Geißenklösterle and Hohle Fels, and the Totes Gebirge (Austria) with Ramesch and Gamssulzen caves. Both regions revealed two genetically distinct cave bear lineages, and previous studies suggest behavioural differences for the respective bears in these two regions.In the Ach valley, irrespective of the cave site, U. s. spelaeus was replaced by U. ingressus around 28 ka uncal BP with limited chronological overlap without recognizable dietary changes as documented by the isotopic composition (13C, 15N) of the bones. Furthermore, the present study shows that the dental microwear pattern was similar for all bears in both caves, however with a larger variability in Geißenklösterle than in Hohle Fels.In contrast, the two Austrian caves, Gamssulzen ( U. ingressus) and Ramesch ( Ursus s. eremus), show considerable differences in both palaeodietary indicators, i.e., stable isotopes, and dental microwear, over at least 15,000years. The oxygen and carbon analysis of the tooth enamel combined with the dental microwear of the same molars provide an extremely diversified picture of the feeding behaviour of these fossil bears. The already known differences between these two study areas are confirmed and refined using the new approaches. Moreover, the differences between the two cave bear lineages in the Totes Gebirge became even larger. Some niche partitioning between both types of cave bears was supported by the present study but it does not seem to be triggered by climate. This multi-disciplinary approach gives new insights into the palaeobiology of extinct bears. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. Source

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