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Cave Bear Incisor fossil

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The European Cave Bear or Ursus spelaeus existed during two different ice ages and is one of the best known mammals of the Ice Age. It had a heavily built body with a large head, domed skull, steep forehead, and small eyes. The build of its body was similar to that of a grizzly bear. As fearsome-looking as it was (up to 10 feet long and 1,000 pounds), the Cave Bear subsisted mostly on plants, seeds and tubers, as paleontologists can infer from the wear patterns on its fossilized teeth. As devastating an impact as Homo sapiens ultimately had on Ursus spelaeus, early humans possessed enormous respect for the Cave Bear. At the start of the 20th century, paleontologists excavated a Swiss cave containing a wall stacked with Cave Bear skulls, and caves in Italy and southern France have also yielded tantalizing hints of early Cave Bear worship.

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