Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Killer entrance suspected in mystery of unusually large group of carnivores in ancient cave

Date:
May 1, 2013
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
An assortment of saber-toothed cats, hyenas, an extinct 'bear-dog', ancestors of the red panda and several other carnivores died under unusual circumstances in a Spanish cave near Madrid approximately 9-10 million years ago. It now appears that the animals may have entered the cave intentionally and been trapped there, according to new research.

This is the interior of Batallones-1 trap showing two individuals of the sabertoothed cat Machairodus aphanistus feeding from the carcass of a rhinoceros.
Credit: Mauricio Antσn

An assortment of saber-toothed cats, hyenas, an extinct 'bear-dog', ancestors of the red panda and several other carnivores died under unusual circumstances in a Spanish cave near Madrid approximately 9-10 million years ago. It now appears that the animals may have entered the cave intentionally and been trapped there, according to research published May 1 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Soledad Domingo from the University of Michigan and colleagues from other institutions.

Different reasons have previously been offered to explain the unusually large concentration of healthy adult carnivores in this cave, including mass mortality, accidental falls into the cave, or simply that the animals died in other locations and were washed up into the cave. However, none of these could explain the absence of herbivores (nearly 98% of the fossils are of carnivores) or the large numbers of apparently healthy adults.

In the present study, authors examined the geological conditions under which the cave was formed, the age of individuals in the cave and the time frame over which they likely entered this pit. Tracking clues like the demography of the individuals recovered, the orientation of the remains and scarcity of fractured bones or trampling marks, among others, the researchers conclude that the animals most likely actively entered the cavity in search of food or water over a protracted period of time and were subsequently unable to make their way out, ultimately dying in the cave.

They suggest that the scarcity of herbivore remains may indicate that the cavity was clearly visible and thus avoided by these animals. Fossil bones in this site exhibit a very good preservation state as a consequence of their deposition in the restricted and protective environment of the chamber.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Soledad Domingo, M. Teresa Alberdi, Beatriz Azanza, Pablo G. Silva, Jorge Morales. Origin of an Assemblage Massively Dominated by Carnivorans from the Miocene of Spain. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (5): e63046 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063046

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Killer entrance suspected in mystery of unusually large group of carnivores in ancient cave." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130501193133.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2013, May 1). Killer entrance suspected in mystery of unusually large group of carnivores in ancient cave. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130501193133.htm
Public Library of Science. "Killer entrance suspected in mystery of unusually large group of carnivores in ancient cave." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130501193133.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) — Iceland has lowered its aviation alert on its largest volcano after a fresh eruption on a nearby lava field prompted authorities to enforce a flight ban for several hours. Duration: 01:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) — A lightning strike injured three people on a New York City beach on Sunday. The storms also delayed flights and interrupted play at the US Open tennis tournament. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) — Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) — A study of almost 20 years' worth of satellite images shows Antarctic sea levels are on the rise as ice shelves continue to melt. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins