August 24, 2010
Humans Drove Cave Bear To Extinction?

I'm thinking Darryl Hannah's slingshot skills were passed down to her descendants and they carried out the extinction. That clan she hooked up with were already living in a cave and so cave bears were driven out onto the street (or mountain trail). The human cave-dwellers caused a homeless cave bear crisis.

"The decline in the genetic diversity of the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) began around 50,000 years ago, much earlier than previously suggested, at a time when no major climate change was taking place, but which does coincide with the start of human expansion", Aurora Grandal-D'Anglade, co-author of the study and a researcher at the University Institute of Geology of the University of Coruña, tells SINC.

According to the research study, published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, radiocarbon dating of the fossil remains shows that the cave bear ceased to be abundant in Central Europe around 35,000 years ago.

"This can be attributed to increasing human expansion and the resulting competition between humans and bears for land and shelter", explains the scientist, who links this with the scarce fossil representation of the bear's prey in the abundant fossil record of this species.

Humans wiped out lots of species wherever they showed up. The co-evolution of humans and other species in Africa gave those species time to evolve ways to avoid death and human hands. But where humans showed up relatively suddenly other animals often didn't have enough time to evolve defenses.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 August 24 10:38 PM  Trends Extinction

setnaffa said at August 26, 2010 1:38 PM:

Or not.

not anon or anonymous said at August 26, 2010 1:39 PM:

They refused to become socialists...had to go.

matt said at August 26, 2010 1:48 PM:

50,000 years ago there were about 5000 humans running around Europe hiding from monsters, evil spirits, demons, and Frenchmen. I think they were much more skeert of the cave bears than the bears of humans.

Allen Thorpe said at August 26, 2010 1:57 PM:

Yeah, but those were Homo Sapiens. Modern humans are Homo Tremens. They can't wipe out anything.

MarkJ said at August 26, 2010 2:14 PM:

"In a related story, the Natural Resources Defense Council will be filing a damages lawsuit on behalf of the cave bears against humanity for 'the unconscionable termination of this species with extreme prejudice.' An NRDC spokesperson declared, 'There can be no statute of limitations when it comes to the extinction of species. We're already contemplating further actions on behalf of Dodos, Tasmanian Tigers, and Passenger Pigeons. And, yeah, I know there weren't any humans 65 million years ago, but I'm sure George Bush had something to do with the extinction of the dinosaurs.'"

Wilson said at August 26, 2010 2:19 PM:

Sounds doubtful.

exception said at August 26, 2010 2:27 PM:

"I think they were much more skeert of the cave bears than the bears of humans."

That was a very dangerous position for the bears to be in.

Ryan Waxx said at August 26, 2010 2:35 PM:

It's obvious that Bush caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. He was in league with Big Oil and the Saudis, neither of which would have oil today if Bush hadn't murdered the dinos like he murdered all those Iraqi babies.

Swen Swenson said at August 26, 2010 2:37 PM:

Interesting. I don't know about the cave bears in Europe, but common speculation among archaeologists in the US suggests that the western hemisphere couldn't be colonized by humans until the short-faced bear became extinct ca. 12,000 BP. Think of a pure carnivore the size of a clydesdale adapted to running and you can see what we were up against. Humans were probably just a 'small part' of its diet. I'm rather doubtful that humans drove these mega-carnivores to extinction, we're probably lucky they didn't drive us to extinction.

Biobob said at August 26, 2010 2:47 PM:

Rofl, great comments all. extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence - and they don't have it ! But it makes a great story.

DonM said at August 26, 2010 2:51 PM:

We do know what happened in New Zealand when humans ran up against the Moa, a 12 foot tall carniverous bird. Moa is Maori for "chicken".

Killer Human said at August 26, 2010 2:55 PM:

One more damn thing for us to feel guilty about.

DonM said at August 26, 2010 2:58 PM:

Ok, blew it. Moa were vegetarian. Terror birds were carniverous, but extinct before arrival of humans.

eman said at August 26, 2010 3:02 PM:

Um, I think cave bears were vegans.

As for wiping out beasties like the short-faced bear, kill the cubs. Even if you kill only one of two, extinction is certain.

Kirsten said at August 26, 2010 3:28 PM:

Perhaps we can persuade Congress to attach a wee cave bear reparations rider to the next stimulus bill.

Dave said at August 26, 2010 3:53 PM:

Long-faced Bear, Good.
Short-faced Bear, Bad.

Come now, folks, I don't think we're taking this as seriously as we should. We are talking Charismatic Megafauna here. Get serious. There is guilt to be doled out. And guilt is power.

It was OK to sit on your hands over the trilobites, but we're talking Gentle Ben here.

exhelodrvr said at August 26, 2010 4:41 PM:

If my ancestors did not come from Europe, it's not my fault, is it?

Rob said at August 26, 2010 5:43 PM:

Seriously? This is the state of science now? "X happened and Man was around when X happened, ergo, Man caused X. Case closed." Everything else was static (weather, other species)? The article doesn't mention if they looked for other causes. It just mentions that the the decline coincided with the expansion of man into the area. Correlation means causation! It's the new Science.

BDR said at August 26, 2010 6:06 PM:

Moas. Extinction. Let me get this straight. Did Moas become extinct after the arrival of the "indigenous" Maori people (indigenous = incapable of ever doing anything bad) in about 1300 A.D or after the arrival of Western white men (source of all evil) a couple of centuries later. I thought it was the former but maybe I need to volunteer for re-education on the matter. With the passing of Howard Zinn, who do I turn to for regrooving?

Dave in Seattle said at August 26, 2010 6:41 PM:

While cloning dinosaurs may never be possible, many extinct animals from the near past could be revived. If I had a billion dollars I might give it a try.

Eric Blair said at August 26, 2010 6:59 PM:

Moas were wiped out by the Maori or whoever.

Inigo Montoya said at August 26, 2010 7:33 PM:

Maybe the Spaniards could clone the cave bears.Then they could evict all the other inhabitants of the caves with affirmative action programs and give them back to the cave bears. Then we could feed them a steady diet of Eurocrats and archeologists. There was a reason for the rapid decline of the Spanish Empire.Now we see why.

Tantor said at August 26, 2010 8:35 PM:

A lot of things happenned with humans 50,000 years ago. That's when humans changed from robust to gracile skeletons, began wearing clothes, and began living in units larger than hunter bands. Before that, humans were big-boned, thick muscled brutes made for combat, so belligerent they could not form any association greater than a hunter band because they immediately attacked any human competitors they met. Something happenned that allowed humans to live together in larger groups, villages of kin. They began cooperating, living smarter rather than harder. Perhaps villages of humans were better foragers than hunter bands, competing more effectively with bears. Perhaps villages of humans could hunt cave bears more successfully than hunter bands could.

Mike Giles said at August 27, 2010 5:54 AM:

Yo Swen;
On the Short Faced Bear thing.
Humans stopped doing the One on One thing about the time we jumped down from the trees.
We show up in groups.
We show up armed to the teeth.
We show up with a plan.
Short Faced Bear equal Bear skin rug.

andycanuck said at August 27, 2010 7:05 AM:

Then we could feed them a steady diet of Eurocrats and archeologists.
Wouldn't that high fat diet lead to extinction, too?

And it was totally justifiable. Where else would they get bikini fur?

Kawena said at August 27, 2010 8:03 AM:

Be nice, some archaeologists don't give a rat's arse about bears unless they were decoration in the current house we're excavating. Not all of us need to be fed to some dumbass bear that nature killed off. Also, as a point of interest, 3 species go extinct every day, its a constant battle against mother nature and that bitch is still winning.

Fred said at August 27, 2010 8:41 AM:

Swen, I have no knowledge of my own regarding the short-faced bear, but the Wikipedia link you provide seems to decisively counter your thesis.

Mazzuchelli said at August 27, 2010 10:37 AM:

The Lewis & Clark expedition had one hell of a time with grizzly bears. They'd load up the bear with lead shot and the bear would keep on coming. Generally, the best bet was to risk jumping off cliffs into the Missouri in order to live to see another day. From Clark in 1805, "we Shot ten Balls into him before we killed him, & 5 of those Balls through his lights..."

Tj Green said at August 30, 2010 3:38 PM:

There were no members of the felidae family in Europe, and therefore no Toxoplasmosis, which would of allowed the RH negative blood type to emerge in our species. How many would have died, or been damaged, by the RH positive/negative interaction? If humans caused the extinction of cats in Europe, as it did with bears, then we have paid the price.

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