Recent studies have led to some researchers’ belief that early humans may have played a more important role than previously believed in the disappearance of cave lions.
The study, which was published in the PLOS ONE journal on Wednesday, was led by a University of Salamanca archeologist, Marian Cueto, and comes as a completion to the commonly accepted species disappearance theory.
Cave lions, or Panthera spelaea, are believed to have wandered the terrains that spanned between Europe and the northern part of North America. Their principal food source is thought to have most likely consisted of large animals the likes of bison and deer.
The species is estimated to have become extinct and disappeared some 12,000 years ago of reasons as yet unknown. The most popularly held belief is that the cave lions were affected by climate change.
But the new study comes to complete or change this theory after the team of scientists discovered evidence which led to the conclusion that prehistoric humans may have had a role in the disappearance of the big cats.
A northern Spanish coast cave exploration revealed the presence of nine of the animal’s toe bones, and nothing more. Furthermore, the bones bore marks similar to those of expert skinning techniques, which started raising questions.
The marks are also believed to have been made by an experienced tool-user which, according to the team, point to the fact that humans may have been skinning the animals, possibly for sports and pleasure, and not just killing them for their meat.
The theory has started controversies, as not all scientists are convinced by the idea and argue that the main point in the skinning animal theory can be easily explained.
They argue that the lack of a carcass could be easily justified by the fact that the respective cave lions or lion could have been skinned and eaten elsewhere, or even taken by the human after it was killed by another animal.
As both early and early human had similar animal sources of food, humanoids could have posed another serious threat to the cave lions which were already fighting other animals.
Still, the presence of the cave lions’ toenails, which was accompanied by other animal remains could in fact point to the humans’ relation to the species.
Even if the remains are proven to be just bounty rewards, the fact remains that the presence of such cave lion remains in the habitats of the early humans marked them as important factors in the latter’s customs and mind.
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