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Rare artifacts found in German cave that Stone Age humans and bears used. See finds

While exploring a cave in Germany, archaeologists discovered a rare trove of ancient artifacts and remains left by prehistoric humans — and cave bears.

Officials said more than 10,000 animal bones and several stone tools were unearthed from a cave in Endsee, according to a Dec. 11 news release from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation. Archaeologists explored an approximately 13,000-square-foot site to find the remains.

Among the remains, experts discovered seven well-preserved fragments from a cave bear jaw, officials said. In combination with other bones found at the site, the fragments create almost an entire cave bear skeleton.

Photos show fragments of the jaws, as well as a whole tooth from one of the creatures.

Seven well-preserved fragments from a cave bear jaw were found at the site.
Seven well-preserved fragments from a cave bear jaw were found at the site.
A preserved cave bear tooth.
A preserved cave bear tooth.

Archaeologists said they used radiocarbon dating to determine the bones likely date to between 45,000 B.C. and 25,000 B.C. The cave bears likely used the area for hibernation and to raise their cubs.

Cave bears, now extinct, grew to about 880 pounds to 2,200 pounds, according to Britannica. Their large heads and distinctive teeth indicate they were vegetarians.

Experts also unearthed bones belonging to other animals — including cave hyenas, wild horses, mammoths, rhinos and wolves — as well as stone tools, indicating the cave was also utilized by early humans or Neanderthals, officials said. Some of the animal bones, which were likely left by hunters, had burn marks and other evidence of processing.

Archaeologists said they also found other animal bones, including this hyena jaw.
Archaeologists said they also found other animal bones, including this hyena jaw.
A stone artifact excavated from the cave.
A stone artifact excavated from the cave.

The tools in the cave date to between approximately 300,000 B.C. and 45,000 B.C., according to the archaeologists. It’s not yet clear how the bears and humans interacted and the order in which they used the cave.

Endsee is about 330 miles southwest of Berlin.

Google Translate was used to translate a news release from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation.

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