For the study, Bon and her colleagues performed radiocarbon dating, mitochondrial DNA analysis and isotope investigations of cave bear remains from Chauvet-Pont d’Arc and Deux-Ouvertures caves located along the Ardeche River in France. Both caves feature art on the walls, some of which shows cave bears.
The tests revealed that cave bears inhabited the Ardeche region from around 37,000 to 27,400 years ago, with the oldest samples from Chauvet dating to 29,000 years ago. For a while, the bears had few rivals for the caves
That changed when humans first began to use the natural shelters 32,000 to 30,000 years ago. The DNA analysis determined the cave bear population was small and isolated, and that the bears probably died out not long after humans came onto the scene.
Story: Jennifer veigas, Discovery News | Photo: Corbis