We are on schedule with the work within INTEGRATE and we are making consistent progress. In the first phase, we aim at non-invasive analyzes of the fossil material, after which we will move to the collection of bone tissue, trying, as much as possible, to keep the samples as close as possible to their original form.
Our volunteer, Andra Ilie, master's student at the Faculty of Geology and Geophysics of the University of Bucharest, started the osteometric measurements on the mandibles of Ursus spelaeus. The protocol used is the one published by Tsoukala & Grandal-D'Anglade (2002) for the fossil bear specimens and provides, for the analyzed mandibles, a number of about 90 measurements (30 for the mandible and 56 for the teeth). We use both analogue and electronic callipers (0.02mm accuracy). It is relatively routine work but very necessary to obtain information regarding the paleoecology of the analyzed species. Moreover, these data will also be part of Andra's dissertation work.
The obtained data will be correlated, with those that will later result from dental wear analyses, stable isotopes (δ18O from dental apatite carbonate and phosphate, δ13C, δ44Ca, δ26Mg, δ66Zn) and radiocarbon. Furthermore, the δ13C and δ15N data, previously obtained for the same fossils, from the mandibular collagen will be added to these analyses. This endeavour will target the answers to the unresolved questions regarding the paleoecology and extinction of the cave bears. It will be a considerable challenge to multi-factorially analyze all these parameters but we are confident that we will be able to integrate all the data and achieve our goals.
We go back to work now.
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A good week everyone!