Recognizing growth patterns and maternal strategies in extinct species using stable isotopes: The case of the cave bear Ursus spelaeusROSENMÜLLER

M. Pérez-Rama
D. Fernández-Mosquera

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Stable isotope signature values of young mammals depend, among other things, on the equivalent values in the mother during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Skeletal remains of cave bears (Ursus spelaeus ROSENMÜLLER) of different ages were studied to investigate the influence of breastfeeding and hibernation in the isotopic signature of individuals during their growth. The results show that the mother’s special metabolism during hibernation is reflected in the values of δ15N and δ13C of newborns. From the moment of birth until adulthood, environmental factors, sex and maternal investment contribute to an increased variability in the relationship between cub size and diet type.