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Microwear analyses results and visit at IPHES

Photo 1. The lab where Paolo, Ivan and Florent analyzed the cave bear teeth.

Photo 2. A close-up of the lower M1 occlusal surface.

Photo 3. Emphasizing the pit structures identified for the first time for cave bears, on the lower M1s.

Photo 4. Visiting Cova del Toll. From left to right, Iván Ramírez Pedraza, Florent Rivals, Marius Robu and Paolo Duñó Iglesias.

Dear friends of bears and caves, 

Greetings from Tarragona, Spain!

At invitation of dr. Florent Rivals, our collaborator from the Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES), and together with his master student, Paulo Duñó Iglesias, and his Phd student, dr. Iván Ramírez Pedraza, we worked and discussed these days the results we achieved for the Carpathian Late Pleistocene cave bears and brown bears. 

The results look very interesting and we have a lot of work to do, for the months to come. Namely, to start working on publishing our latest results. Actually, during our staying in Tarragona, we sketched our first collaborative paper and we’re happy about the progress. 

Meanwhile, dr. Rivals and his team showed us the IPHES’ infrastructure, their colleagues, the palaeontological collection and explained to us the procedure they used for analyzing the microwear patterns they found on the first lower bears’ molars. Long story short, nice place for doing research! 

Moreover, we were invited to visit a couple of palaeontological cave sites where Florent, Paulo and Ivan have been working for a couple of years and the results they obtained are impressive. The sites are situated close to Tarragona and produced an Upper Pleistocene fauna. Cave bears included, of course. Coming back to our Romanian bears, according to our colleagues that worked on the samples and quantified the wear pattern of the occlusal surface of the lower M1 of the bears, we have a premiere! For the first time in the cave bear dental microwear research, pits and punctures were identified on the occlusal surface of the teeth. This may suggest a different feeding source never documented for the cave bears. Indeed, exciting! Not to mention that it’s the first time when the Romanian cave bears are being analyzed by means of microwear analyses…aaaand that we generated the largest dataset produced so far for the European MIS 3 bears! 

However, this is just the beginning of the work. We have to compare our results with other datasets to get to the correct conclusions. Long way until getting to be published but we’re on the good path. Oh, let’s not forget completely about the sun, the sea, the architecture, the history, the good food and the wine that Spain provided generously.

Gracias, España! 

Hang on, more to come!

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