Seasonality of use of Za Hájovnou Cave by bears and lions.

Pages 103-106
Fossil Imprint / Acta Musei Nationalis Pragae, Series B - Historia Naturalis | 2014/70/1-2

Dental cementum from lions (Panthera fossilis) and bears (Ursus deningeri) found in Za Hájovnou Cave in Javoříčko Karst were studied. In order to determine the reasons why bears and cave lions crawled into the cave, tooth cement increments were analysed. I used thin sections of the tooth roots of these mammals to determine the seasonality of the death. The tooth samples were taken from different parts of the cave complex: Chodba naděje, Kostnice II, Narozeninová chodba and Propástka 1. These data indicate that bears mostly sought out this cave as a place to hibernate. The exception was one specimen which died there between spring and summer, probably as the result of illness or injury. Five bears died in the early stages of hibernation and seven during winter. In the case of the cave lions (Panthera fossilis), these were predominantly young and thus inexperienced and were therefore probably attracted by the bear carcasses in the caves. It is highly likely that these carcasses attracted not only young and inexperienced lions, but also other predators (such as hyenas, or adult lions). Za Hájovnou Cave was probably used as a winter den by bears and especially by expectant mothers for the birth of their cubs. Other species present may be there due to predatory activity or were exploiting the carcasses of dead bears during the winter.

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