Washington, Jan 8 : An International team of researchers has suggested that Pleistocene cave bears from the Carpathian region in Europe, were as omnivorous as modern bears, with a diet that consisted of both plants and food.
Researchers including Erik Trinkaus, Professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, conducted this study.
According to it, cave bears have long fascinated paleontologists and anthropologists, given the abundance of their large skeletal remains in Pleistocene hibernation caves across western Eurasia.
For the past 30 years, studies of their bones and teeth, and especially the nitrogen isotopes in their bone protein, had led to the conclusion that these ancient bears were largely vegetarian.
This interpretation of them as being vegetarian also evoked an image of gentle giants, feeding on berries and roots.
But new nitrogen isotope data from the Pestera cu Oase in southwestern Romania shows that though many of these cave bears appear to have been largely vegetarian, they were sometimes as omnivorous as modern brown bears, including the North American Kodiak and the grizzly bears.
The study also mentions that these cave bears competed for food with other contemporary large carnivores of the time, like hyenas, lions, wolves, and our own human ancestors.