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Research shows cave bears are not vegetarians

RESEARCHERS from France and Belgium have found that the extinct ancient cave bears might be omnivorous, not herbivorous as surmised, the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reported.

The research group selected the skulls of 40 cave bears which lived in the Goyet Cave in Belgium thousands of years ago. And they analyzed the scratehes and speckles on the teeth enamels of the bears. This method is frequently applied to classify animal food structures.

The research findings indicated that cave bears were not "strict vegetarians." Before hibernation, these animals took various recipes which included birds, larger animals, invertebrates, seeds, dried or fresh fruits. Like most of the omnivorous animals, they hibernated only after storing enough energy.

People believed that during the Pleistocene epoch, radical climate changes reduced vegetation resources, which caused the extinction of these huge animals. However, suspicion would be caston this theory after cave bears were proved to be omnivorous.

Cave bears lived in European and Middle East regions 15,000 to 300,000 years ago. These animals became extinct because of climate changes and human activities. According to previous researches, they shared the common ancestors with existent brown bears 1.6 million years ago. These two species were also similar in body shapes and behaviors.

Scientists have long been arguing over the food structure of the cave bear. Currently, most paleontologists believe that cave bears are herbivorous.


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