• Results of the P4, K and Index of Plumpness indicate an earlier evolutionary stage.
  • All three indices should be used with precaution when analyzing MIS 3 cave bear sites.
  • Urşilor cave bear population seem to belong to a eastern clade of U. Ingressus group.


The most common methods used for assessing the relative age of a cave bear bone assemblage are the P4/4 index (morphodynamic index of the cave bear fourth premolar), the K-index and the Index of Plumpness (both used for cave bear’s 2nd metatarsal). Preliminary work on this (Robu et al., 2011), for Urşilor Cave (NW Romania), has indicated one of the youngest European cave bear populations. As the number of extracted fossil bones from the palaeontological excavation increased recently, a re-assessment of the of the age of the cave bear assemblage is necessary. 206 cave bear fourth lower and upper premolars and 587 metapodials were analyzed. The P4/4 morphodynamic index, the K-index and the Index of Plumpness were calculated for the local MIS 3 cave bear bone assemblage. The results of the three indices have lower values when compared with the previously obtained for the same site and respect the subsequent radiometric ages (ca. 47-39 ky BP; Constantin et al., 2014). However, the results for P4/4 morphodynamic index, K-index, and Index of Plumpness are of lesser relevance when used to assess the relative age of MIS 3 cave bear bone assemblages. All three methods require caution when applied and interpreted on short time intervals and on smaller geographic areas.



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