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CAVE BEAR FOSSILS

Cave Bear

Ursus spelaeus

PLEISTOCENE PERIOD:  200,000 - 20,000 years ago

Found throughout caves in Europe, the Cave Bear (Ursus spelaeus) was named after the places where its remains are commonly found: caves from England to the Caspian Sea with the majority concentrated in Central and Eastern European mountain chains.  Remains found in caves near the North Sea and in The Netherlands show that the range of Ursus spelaeus eventually spread into the lowland forests of western Europe.  In this last region, populations drastically declined around 40,000 years ago finally becoming extinct during the last glacial period.

The bear group Ursus, is a member of the order Carnivora.  Ursus is comprised of the six remaining modern bear species.  The Protursus subfamily was the starting point dating back to an origin about 10 million years ago.  Around 5 million years ago from this group, emerged the species Ursus minimus, the ancestor of all Ursus bears.  One offshoot Ursus species of bear, Ursus etruscus (Etruscan bear), gave rise to a line of Ursus bears that all became extinct.  These three are Ursus savini (Savin's bear), Ursus deningeri (Deninger's bear), and Ursus spelaeus (cave bear).

Ursus spelaeus was a huge omnivorous bear that resided in caves year-round compared to modern bears which only use caves as a shelter for hibernation.  When standing on its hind legs, the height of this beast would have averaged 10 feet tall!  Skulls have been found 20 inches in length!  The closest relative is our modern day brown bear but the cave bear averages 30% greater in size.  One way to differentiate a cave bear skull from a brown bear (and all other bears for that matter) is the sheer size, first off, and also the prominence of the brow and forehead, unique to the cave bear.  Modern bear skulls have a more gradual sloping forehead.

It is believed that the cave bears' demise was aided by competition for food and shelter by a simultaneous existence with the brown bear.  Evidence found in caves suggests that prehistoric humans either worshipped the cave bear or used its remains in religious rituals.  "Temples" have been discovered intact within caves that were set up and left by Neanderthals with cave bear skulls set upon rock altars and arranged in formations.  Instances of teeth and bones carefully lined up have also been discovered in caves once occupied by Neanderthals.  

The oldest positively dated musical instrument was discovered in a cave in Slovenia.  It was a flute made by the Neanderthals out of the bone of a cave bear.  It has been dated to 50,000 years ago.  In one cave in particular, a stone structure was found to have been erected by Neanderthals with a cave bear skull perched upon it and evidence of numerous spears being thrown at it.  Cave drawings and carvings of the cave bear originate with the Neanderthal people and caves have been discovered where Neanderthal and later, Cro-Magnon peoples occupied caves after or on alternating periods with cave bears.  

Man's imagination with these beasts continued into the Middle Ages where skulls discovered in caves in mountainous regions of Europe were misinterpreted to have been the remains of dragons.  This is the reason why many maps that date to this period have these regions bearing the forewarning notations, "Here be Dragons".

Cave Bear remains have been found from England to the Caspian Sea with the majority concentrated in mountainous regions of Central and Eastern Europe.

Misspellings:  Ursus spelas, Ursus spelaus, Ursus spelaues, Ursus spalaeus, Ursus spalaus, Cave boar


BEWARE of so-called "RUSSIAN (SIBERIA) CAVE BEAR" fossils being offered on the market.  THESE ARE NOT TRUE CAVE BEAR FOSSILS!  While cave bear remains have been found in the region, it is another fossil bear species named Ursus uralensis that is being sold as Ursus spelaeus and being labeled as the "Russian Cave Bear". The Siberian species uralensis was NOT a cave-dwelling bear but is an extinct off-shoot similar to a modern Grizzly bear.  Some dealers will call it Ursus spelaeus, some will call it the right species, but all will call their Russian bear fossils "cave bear" which is a misnomer.  

The features of the  Russian non-cave-dwelling species are evident when compared to the true European Cave Bear (Ursus spelaeus).  The Russian  bear species (uralensis) is also not as massive as the true European cave bear, Ursus spelaeusBasic anatomical features of the skull are easy to differentiate the two.  Ursus spelaeus will have larger zygomatic arches (cheek bones), a much steeper forehead and a higher, more pronounced sagittal crest (the crest on the dorsal posterior portion of the skull).  Compare the skull images on this page and elsewhere in this section to Russian skulls being sold elsewhere and you will see the difference.  Russian bear fossils of Ursus uralensis are MUCH MORE prevalent and found in greater numbers today than high quality TRUE European cave bear fossils (Ursus spelaeus), and therefore are less rare and reflect a lower price than the European specimens.

- copyright Paleo Direct, Inc.  All images and text on this site are protected by copyright and may not be used in any way.

CLICK ON THE PICTURES BELOW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT EACH SPECIMEN

LAND MAMMALS - MAIN


CLICK HERE TO SEE SOLD CAVE BEAR FOSSILS

 

ULTRA RARE URSUS ARCTOS PREHISTORIC BROWN BEAR COMPLETE INTACT TIBIA  LOWER LEG BONE FROM EUROPE - Gravel Quarry - Southeastern Poland

11.25" in length

$745     LM40-150     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

ULTRA RARE URSUS ARCTOS PREHISTORIC BROWN BEAR COMPLETE INTACT ULNA LOWER ARM BONE FROM EUROPE - Gravel Quarry - Southeastern Poland

14.25" in length

$645     LMX050     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

SUPREME GRADE CAVE BEAR (URSUS SPELAEUS) CANINE FANG TOOTH WITH ROOT - Cave Deposit - Carpathian Mountains, Romania

4" in length on the curve

$395     LM40-131     INCLUDES DISPLAY BOX     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

SUPREME GRADE CAVE BEAR (URSUS SPELAEUS) CANINE FANG TOOTH WITH ROOT - Cave Deposit - Carpathian Mountains, Romania

4" in length on the curve

$395     LM40-133     INCLUDES DISPLAY BOX     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

SUPREME GRADE CAVE BEAR (URSUS SPELAEUS) CANINE FANG TOOTH WITH ROOT - Cave Deposit - Carpathian Mountains, Romania

3.75" in length on the curve

$395     LM40-140     INCLUDES DISPLAY BOX     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

LARGE EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS LARGEST PRIMARY MOLAR WITH FULL ROOT IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

2.5" in length overall with matrix, crown of tooth is 2.25"  in length

$275     LM40-108     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

JUVENILE CAVE BEAR (URSUS SPELAEUS) HAND CLAW - Undisclosed Cave in Carpathian Mountains, Romania

1.2" in length on the curve

$95     LM8-0400     INCLUDES DISPLAY BOX     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

 

JUVENILE CAVE BEAR (URSUS SPELAEUS) FOOT CLAW - Undisclosed Cave in Carpathian Mountains, Romania

1.2" in length on the curve

$95     LM8-0399     INCLUDES DISPLAY BOX     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS LARGE PRIMARY MOLAR AND ASSOCIATED BONES IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

5.75" in length overall with matrix

$425     LM40-120     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS JAW WITH MOLARS IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

6" in length overall with matrix

$445     LM40-121     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS INCISOR TEETH IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

6.5" in length overall with matrix

$395     LM40-026     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS LARGEST PRIMARY MOLAR IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX WITH ASSOCIATED BONES - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

4.5" in length overall with matrix

$395     LM40-024     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

GRADE 10 LARGE EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS PRIMARY MOLAR WITH FULL ROOT - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

1.75" in length overall

$275     LM40-112     INCLUDES DISPLAY BOX     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS LARGEST PRIMARY MOLAR WITH FULL ROOT IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

2.25" in length overall with matrix, crown of tooth is 1.75"  in length

$295     LM40-110     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

GRADE 10 EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS LARGEST PRIMARY MOLAR WITH FULL ROOT IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

2.75" in length overall with matrix, crown of tooth is 1.95"  in length

$285     LM40-104     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS PREMOLAR IN JAW BONE EMBEDDED IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

3.5" in length overall with matrix, tooth with root is 1.25" long

$125     LM40-106     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS MOLAR WITH FULL ROOT IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

2.25" in length overall with matrix, tooth is 1.25" long with root

$135     LM40-117     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS MOLAR WITH FULL ROOT IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

3" in length overall with matrix, tooth is 1.25" long with root

$125     LM40-113     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS MOLAR IN JAW BONE EMBEDDED IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

3.5" in length overall with matrix, tooth crown is 1.25" long

$295     LM40-023     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS PARTIAL PALATE AND MAXILLA WITH PREMOLAR - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

5.4" in length overall with bone

$225     LM40-027     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS MOLAR WITH ASSOCIATED BONES IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

2.5" in length overall with matrix, tooth is 1" long with root

$165     LM40-114     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS MOLAR WITH ASSOCIATED BONES IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

2.5" in length overall with matrix, tooth is 1.25" long with root

$195     LM40-028     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS MOLAR IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

2.5" in length overall with matrix, tooth is 1.15" long with root

$165     LM40-111     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS MOLAR IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

2.5" in length overall with matrix, tooth is 1.25" long with root

$145     LM40-022     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS COMPLETE PERFECT TOOTH WITH ROOT IN ORIGINAL CAVE FLOOR  MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

1.45" in length overall with matrix, tooth is 1.25" long with root

$135     LM40-029     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EUROPEAN CAVE BEAR URSUS SPELAEUS FOSSIL GRADE 10 PREMOLAR TOOTH IN JAW BONE AND CAVE MATRIX - Undisclosed Cave in Poland

2.5" in length overall with matrix, tooth is 1.5" long with root

$195     LM40-103     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

CAVE BEAR (URSUS SPELAEUS) CLAW FROM THE FAMOUS DRAGONS CAVE IN AUSTRIA - Drachenhohle - Mixnitz, Austria

1.75" - 1" in length on the curve average

$95     LM40-149     INCLUDES DISPLAY BOX     Our Pick of One - Typical Claws Shown

 

Each fossil comes with a certificate of authenticity / information sheet.