Pathological Changes of the Cranium of a Young Female Cave Bear (Ursus spelaeus R.)—A Case Study (the Sudety Mts, Poland)


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August 2012


A cranium of a young female cave bear (Ursus spelaeus R.) was found in the Upper Pleistocene sediments of Bear Cave in Kletno, SW Poland. A detailed analysis of the cranium, including radiology, CT and histological methods, revealed numerous pathological changes caused both by diseases and by injuries inflicted by another predator. It is likely that during its lifespan, the young female was exposed to several attacks (bites on the head) from adult bears. The injuries varied in extent and caused bone infection and inflammation. The nature of most of them suggests that they were not fatal but could have had a significant effect on the overall fitness of the animal. In contrast, the lesions on the frontal bone and in the anterior part of the parietal bone may have been the cause of the individual's death. Additionally, the cranium was found to have cut marks, sharp‐edged longitudinal scars that indicate the use of a sharp‐edged tool, and are usually interpreted as effects of skinning. The finding is suggested to be indirect evidence of the existence of people in southern Poland during the Pleistocene. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Cave Bear, Cranium, Pleistocene Poland

Document Type



International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, Vol. 25, no. 1 (2012-08-22).