Scientists have found first evidence of cave lions in southern Europe

By Jurassic JennJun 27, 2024 09:08 AMScience
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Scientists have found first evidence of cave lions
Scientists have found first evidence of cave lions. Source: www.reddit.com

Scientists have made a groundbreaking discovery in southern Europe, as they have recently uncovered the fossilized remains of Panthera spelaea, commonly known as the cave lion or steppe lion, at the Notarchirico site in southern Italy. Panthera spelaea is a distinct species of Panthera that evolved separately from the modern lion, Panthera leo. This was reported by SSPDaily.

These magnificent creatures once inhabited vast regions spanning from Western Europe to eastern Beringia in North America. However, around 13,000 years ago, they vanished from the face of the Earth due to a combination of human activities, the decline of the mammoth steppe, and changes in the herbivore population.

The remarkable skeletal findings were unearthed at the Palaeolithic site of Notarchirico in the Basilicata region of Italy, which dates back approximately 600,000 years. This discovery marks the oldest known evidence of Panthera spelaea in southern Europe, shedding light on ancient feline's presence in this region. Researchers from the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution further suggest that understanding the early presence of these felines might help elucidate the factors that contributed to the expansion of the Acheulian culture throughout Europe.

The Acheulian culture emerged during the transition from the Early to Middle Pleistocene era, over 600,000 years ago. Coinciding with the spread of large mammals such as Panthera spelaea, this cultural development is intricately linked to significant environmental changes during that period. The study indicates that there was a shift in the duration of glacial and interglacial cycles, with cycles extending from roughly 40,000 years to 100,000 years. This change in the climate and environment had profound implications, necessitating substantial adaptations from both humans and other species existing at the time.

By analyzing these ancient remains, scientists aim to unravel the intriguing history of the cave lions, providing valuable insights into the ecological and behavioral adaptations of both humans and other species during this transformative period. Promisingly, this newfound evidence contributes to our understanding of the dynamic interplay between ancient creatures and their changing environment, ultimately enriching our knowledge of the distant past.

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