This large molar is from a cave bear that lived in Europe during the Pleistocene. The shiny tooth enamel has been well preserved and it clearly exhibits the tall, dulled cusps. The orange areas in the grooves are remnants of soil.
The massive prehistoric cave bear lived throughout Europe and Asia during the Pleistocene, ultimately going extinct roughly 24,000 years ago. This mammal could grow as big as the modern polar bear with males weighing almost double that of females. It had a wide skull with a steep forehead and its body was similar in structure to today's brown bear.
Despite its ferocious appearance, the space between the forward canine and rear elongated molars indicate the cave bear was an herbivore. However, it is believed this mammal was also an opportunistic omnivore feeding off the remains of dead animals, possibly other cave bears.
Over 100,000 remains have been discovered in caves throughout Europe due to the constant moving of glaciers that created ideal ecosystems with a great variety of vegetation. In Romania in 1983, 140 cave bear skeletons were discovered in Bears' Cave, and in 2020 a well preserved carcass of a cub and adult were found with soft tissue.
The cave bear was sometimes hunted by Neanderthals during the Stone Age. There are many mass cave bear burial sites indicating these early humans actually worshipped the cave bear with its image often represented on cave walls.
Cave Bear Tooth
Pleistocene (40,000 years ago)
Size: 1.88 x .88 x .81 inches
Weight: .4 oz