Sophie’s Cave (Germany) - a Late Pleistocene Cave Bear Den

Book Series: Famous Planet Earth Caves

Volume 1

by

Cajus G. Diedrich

DOI: 10.2174/97816810800001150101
eISBN: 978-1-68108-000-0, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-68108-001-7
ISSN: 2405-7207 (Print)
ISSN: 2405-7215 (Online)



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Famous Planet Earth Caves - The new series presents important caves or rock shelters in any kind of rock types all over the world. Eac...[view complete introduction]

Table of Contents

Foreword

- Pp. i

W. Bleicher

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Preface

- Pp. ii

Cajus G. Diedrich

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Acknowledgements

- Pp. iii

Cajus G. Diedrich

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Collections

- Pp. iv

Cajus G. Diedrich

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Introduction

- Pp. 3-25 (23)

Cajus G. Diedrich

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Geology of the Cave Rocks in Upper Franconia

- Pp. 26-33 (8)

Cajus G. Diedrich

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Plio- to Middle Pleistocene Sedimentology, Cave Genesis and Ailsbach Valley Geomorphology

- Pp. 34-53 (20)

Cajus G. Diedrich

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The Early/Middle Late Pleistocene Cave Bear Den

- Pp. 54-84 (31)

Cajus G. Diedrich

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Lion, Hyena Wolf, Weasel and Porcupine Cave Dwellers - Cave Bear Killers and Scavengers

- Pp. 85-111 (27)

Cajus G. Diedrich

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The Final Late Pleistocene Cave Bear and Sporadic Carnivore (Hyena And Wolf) Den

- Pp. 112-145 (34)

Cajus G. Diedrich

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Late Pleistocene Archaeology

- Pp. 146-158 (13)

Cajus G. Diedrich

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Main Post-LGM Speleothem Period

- Pp. 159-169 (11)

Cajus G. Diedrich

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Postglacial Archaeology

- Pp. 170-174 (5)

Cajus G. Diedrich

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Modern Cave Animals and Guests

- Pp. 175-179 (5)

Cajus G. Diedrich

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Subject Index

- Pp. 180-181 (2)

Cajus G. Diedrich

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Foreword

This book is focusing on a Late Pleistocene cave bear den in central Europe, which cave bear dens are larger cave systems, mostly filed up with ten thousands up to a half Million of cave bear bones. Herein, not only the bones of the Sophie’s Cave in Upper Franconia, Bavaria southern Germany) are studied – it is the “den” and its change within 100.000 years and its interesting Wiesent valley sided position to the river terraces (or probably valley glaciers) within the Last Ice Age. These interdisciplinary sedimentological studies make the cave locally important for the geomorphology development of the past 5 Mio years and important to the questions of “glacial signs” in Upper Franconia. The cave bear research of the past 10 years has changed drastically the picture of “the cave bear” of the former Kurtén 1976 and Rabeder et al. 2000 cave bear books – which bears are indeed today splitted by DNA and osteometrical newest studies on skulls and teeth (= “cave bear clock”) into several species and subspecies within the Late Pleistocene – the past 113.000 years. The cave bear ethology was for long misunderstood about European “cave bears”, because all the extinct top predtors - steppe lions, Ice Age leopards, Ice Age spotted hyenas, and Ice Age wolves - the antagonists of cave bears, were not included into the “cave bear story”. The predation and scavenging of cave bear carcass explained with perfect examples not only the Sophie’s Cave cave bear bone taphonomy, and finally explained their deep hibernation in caves as protection against predation, such as the non-existence of “Neanderthal bone flutes”, which were simply products of scavenging hyenas on cave bear cub hind leg bones. Whereas the large predators are few represented in the bone record, typical in Early/Middle Late Pleistocene middle high mountain boreal forests with nearly absence of the mammoth steppe game, quite unique in the European fossil record is a nearly complete Late Pleistocene weasel skeleton and den documentation. The herein presented Sophie’s Cave and other caves of central Europe are international important furthermore due its contribution to the understanding of the “cave bear” exctinction, which can be demonstrated to be a chain reaction starting with climate change, boreal forest and food source disappearance up to the Last Glacial Maximum, and predation stress by Cromagnon humans or large carnivores. It is the first cave, where in Europe a Late Palaeolithic shamanic related reindeer antler/bone depot is proven explaining now the absence of “Ice Age cave art” in German and other western European caves. This Gravettian sanctuary falls within the main “cave bear” hunt period (Aurignacien-Gravettian) of the last and largest European cave bears.

Dr. W. Bleicher
Former Scientific Leader
Heimatmuseum Schloss Hohenlimburg
Alter Schlossweg 30, 58119 Hagen-Hohenlimburg
Germany


Preface

The new Famous Planet Earth Caves e-book series challenges to present important caves all over the world scientifically, but somehow also popular in a mixture, that non-experts can understand their main importance. The Sophie’s Cave in southern Germany belongs obviously to one of the oldest show caves in Germany and Europe and has a long Earth history starting 5 My ago with most importace for the Ice Age and ist impact for the landscape reconstruction of northern Bavarian Upper Francínka. This is a beautiful dolomite rock and valley landscape, that became famous already in historic times. It was visited by many first and famous natural scientists from England (Buckland), France (Cuvier) and Germany (Goldfuss). The book is interdisciplinary but with a strong focus on its main importace – a Late Ice Age cave bear den within a former boreal forest environment of the medium high up to 550 a.s.l. elevated Franconia mountains. It presents a first detail scientific work of a leading German Paleontologist after more then 150 years of non-research about the complex cave use by different cave bear species and subspecies, and their predation by lions, hyenas and wolves. I tis completely different to the classical and old cave bear book, and updates much the knowledge about small and large cave bear ecology in Europe and their life and battle to survive in taiga forest mountain areas of central Europe, which was long misunderstood due to detail work lack about the top predators of Europe – the last lions and hyenas. Those specialized in mountain areas on cave bear feeding well to see at the Sophie’s Cave bone material. The new systematic excavations are well documented, and are illustrated with the cave inhabiting or dwelling animals in action and „nigth-google vision cave view“ – a new way of illustrating by a famous Ice Age artist, who painted also for the famous Beringeria Visitor Center in Youkon, Canada. From the archaeological view, the cave has another unique record, a larger reindeer antler and bone depot within the most nice speleothem decorated hall. Early modern Cromagno humans of the Aurignacien came into this cave-rich region for hunting migrating reindeeer herds in the steep valleys, but here in Upper Franconia, those did not paint or left engravings of animals mainly such as in Spamish and French caves. Here, and at other caves in Germany, shamanism was practiced by the Late Palaeolithic reindeer hunters similar as modern Scandinavian Sami people did until the Medieval times – depositions of antlers of their most important game, the reindeer at religious places. Finally the book gives a first insight about the typical modern cave animals, and postglacial use by Bronze Age, Iron Age and Medieval people, which resettled the valleys and cave entrances of Upper Franconia.

Cajus G. Diedrich
PalaeoLogic, Research Institute
Petra Bezruce 96, CZ-26751 Zdice
Czech Republic


List of Contributors

Author(s):
Cajus G. Diedrich
PalaeoLogic, Research Institute
Petra Bezruce 96, CZ-26751 Zdice
Czech Republic




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