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.

Related Articles


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 December 21, 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 December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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