Cave Bear Tooth - SOLD 2.85" (Incisor)
Cave Bear Tooth - SOLD 2.85" (Incisor)
This specimen is a 2.85" Cave Bear tooth recovered from Poland. The estimated age is 25,000 years old. This tooth is a incisor, which would have come from the front of the bear's jaws.
This tooth comes from the species Ursus spelaeus, which gets its common name from the location its fossils are found: within the cave systems the bears used to hibernate.
Cave Bear Teeth
Over 25,000 years ago, the massive cave bear, Ursus spelaeus, shared the planet with our early ancestors. This Pleistocene animal was larger and stronger than even most modern grizzly bears and roamed Pleistocene Eurasia like a living tank.
Cave bears get their name from their hibernation spots. When the harsh Pleistocene winter came, they would curl up in a cave and wait it out. Since they lacked any natural predators, nearly all cave bear fossils have been found in caves where they likely died in hibernation. The structure of their teeth suggests a largely plant based diet of nuts, roots, and berries.
Fossil remains of cave bears can be found all over Eurasia. These teeth come from modern day Poland and is estimated to be at least 25,000 years old.
Each specimen is a genuine fossil from Ursus spelaeus. These cave bear specimens are sold individually and vary in size and shape. Some pieces may show signs of wear from the years.
A small information and authenticity card about the fossil is included with each specimen.
Estimated Age: 25,000 Years old
MORE ABOUT CAVE BEARS
“The bottom of the cave [...] was found to be strewn all over like a dog kennel [...] with hundreds of teeth and bones…” -Geologist -William Buckland exploring Kirkdale Cave (1822)
📸 An artist's illustration of a Cave Bear in Pleistocene era Poland
📸 A Cave Bear and Cub skeleton pictured alongside a human skeleton for scale. The adult bear is about 5 feet long.
A Prehistoric Creature
The cave bear was bigger than most bears today, with only the polar bear coming close to its size. They measured up to 6.6 feet (2 meters) in length and could carry over 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg) on their frames. Their high weight likely helped them survive the colder climate of the planet in the Pleistocene, and fossil evidence shows they grew larger during glaciation periods than interglacials. Cave bears also had large skulls with broader foreheads than their modern counterparts.
📸 A Pleistocene era cave painting of a bear from Les Combarelles in France.
Fossils from this species are almost always found in caves. In fact, cave bear remains are found more commonly in Pleistocene era cave sites than any other species. However, this doesn’t mean that the cave bear spent all its time in the dark.
Caves made an excellent place for the animals to hide during the cold winters and hibernate in peace. The bears had no natural predators, which means finding a member which died from an animal attack would be very rare. Fossils found within these caves are thought to have come from hibernating bears that died due to disease, exposure, or old age.
📸 Sketches of Cave Bear Jaw and tooth fossils
There is a lot that can be learned from the teeth of one of these bears. They had only one molar on either side, which was elongated with many cusps. This structure indicates a diet that relied on crushing and grinding. Scientists believe that while they were omnivorous they mostly stuck to plants.
Nuts, hard seeds, roots, berries, and tough foliage would all have been sources of energy for cave bears. During the warmer months, cave bears would have left their dens and searched for food before sheltering down again in the winter.
Cave bears had a relatively short history as a species. They are thought to have evolved about 700,000 years ago and went extinct during the Last Glacial Maximum around 22,000 BCE. The cause of their extinction isn’t well known, though climate change and loss of food sources likely played a role. Another possibility is competition for habitat with humans.
Cave paintings of bears date back 32,000 years and any cave with humans in it would not have been safe for bears to hibernate in. Large portions of the population may have simply froze to death without shelter from the winter cold.
📸 The Cave Entrance... What could be waiting inside?
A cave in Austria known as Drachenhöhle Mixnitz, or “Dragon's Cave of Mixnitz,” has had over 30,000 cave bear fossils discovered within its network. Since the Middle Ages, people have been finding bones and pulling them from the cave, with some believing them to be the bones of dragons.
With so many fossils, you’d be tempted to think there was a mass dying of animals here, but in actuality only one bear every other winter would have needed to die during the glaciation period in the winter to fill the cave.
FRONT OF THE SPECIMEN CARD
BACK OF THE SPECIMEN CARD
Buckland, William. “Account of an Assemblage of Fossil Teeth and Bones of Elephant, Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus, Bear, Tiger, and Hyaena, and Sixteen Other Animals; Discovered in a Cave at Kirkdale, Yorkshire, in the Year 1821: With a Comparative View of Five Similar Caverns in Various Parts of England, and Others on the Continent.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol. 112, 1822, pp. 171–236.
Stiner, Mary C. “Cave Bear Ecology and Interactions with Pleistocene Humans.” Ursus, vol. 11, 1999, pp. 41–58.
Kurtén, Björn. “THE CAVE BEAR.” Scientific American, vol. 226, no. 3, 1972, pp. 60–73.