- Cavemen and cave bears competed for shelter in Europe around 32,000 years ago.
- Humans probably contributed to the extinction of cave bears.
- Cave art in a French cave used by both humans and cave bears may be the oldest in the world, since it probably depicts cave bears.
Cavemen may have had to jostle with bears to settle into caves up to 32,000 years ago, as research shows cave bears lived in the same spaces coveted by prehistoric humans.
The new study on cave bears, which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science, may also shed light on the age of cave art depicting these enormous animals and why the bears eventually went extinct.
A clue to the mysteries is that from 32,000 to 30,000 years ago, both humans and cave bears lived in two French caves, creating a likely man-versus-bear battle.
"Paleolithic humans used to kill large animals during their hunts, so they were able to kill cave bears," lead author Celine Bon told Discovery News.
While genetics show cave bears consumed a mostly vegetarian diet, "they might have been violent if they were disturbed during hibernation or if they felt frightened," added Bon, a researcher in the Institute of Biology and Technology at Saclay, France.