Dentition of cave bears from Scladina cave shows morphological variation chronologically over time.
6 January 2019
The supposed herbivorous cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) occupied Europe throughout the Quaternary.
Our findings show significant morphological variation between groups analysed in both size and shape. M2 shows a chronological size increase with PCA plots visually expressing differences in all groups, relating to a buccolingual expansion and an increase of the talon masticatory platform through time. Reduction in the M1 is also shown, possibly to maintain biomechanical performance of dentition for effective mastication, more so in groups relating to the latter stages of the Quaternary.
Findings suggest a rapid response to climatic factors constraining consumable food sources, with GMM offering a promising analytical approach in understanding the palaeobiology, palaeoecology and morphological variation in extinct and extant fossil mammals.
Temporal variation in cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) dentition: The stratigraphic sequence of Scladina Cave, Belgium
Daniel Charters, Grégory Abrams, Isabelle De Groot, Kévin Di Modica, Dominique Bonjean, Carlo Meloro