Presence of cave bears in western Austria before the onset of the Last Glacial Maximum: new radiocarbon dates and palaeoclimatic considerations

Christoph Spotl, Paula J. Reimer, Gernot Rabeder, Denis Scholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Tischoferhohle and Pendling-Barenhohle near Kufstein, Tyrol, are among the only locations where remains of cave bear, Ursus spelaeus-group, were found in the western part of Austria. One sample from each site was radiocarbon-dated four decades ago to ca. 28 C-14 ka BP. Here we report that attempts to date additional samples from Pendling-Barenhohle have failed due to the lack of collagen, casting doubts on the validity of the original measurement. We also unsuccessfully tried to date flowstone clasts embedded in the bone-bearing sediment to provide maximum constraints on the age of this sediment. Ten cave bear bones from Tischoferhohle showing good collagen preservation were radiocarbon-dated to 31.1-39.9 C-14 ka BP, again pointing towards an age underestimation by the original radiocarbon-dated sample from this site. These new dates from Tischoferhohle are therefore currently the only reliable cave bear dates in western Austria and constrain the interval of cave occupation to 44.3-33.5 cal ka BP. We re-calibrate and re-evaluate dates of alpine cave bear samples in the context of available palaeoclimate information from the greater alpine region covering the transition into the Last Glacial Maximum, eventually leading to the demise of this megafauna.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-766
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Issue number8
Early online date20 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • cave bear
  • Eastern Alps
  • Inn Glacier
  • Last Glacial Maximum
  • radiocarbon dating
  • BONE

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