The cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) lived in Europe from Mid Pleistocene until 10.000 years ago, when it become extinct.
The mythical cave bear was bigger than present brown bear (Ursus arctos) of the Pyrenees. Their fore paws were sensibly longer than the rear ones and its skeleton was well-built. Its weight estimation is 450 kg the adult males. The cave bear was vegetarian and its preferred habitat was the mild forests. The cave bear spent winter time into a cave, like current brown bears.
Several bones of cave bears were found in the caves of El Toll and Les Toixoneres (Moià), some of them quite complete. Therefore, the cave bear should have inhabited these caves for a long time, with interrumptions by other big animals as the cave lion (Panthera spelaea)) or the cave hyena (Hyaenea spelaea) and, from Mid Paleolithic onwards, by the human beings.
In the picture, a skull of cave bear dug out in El Toll and showed in the Museum of Archeology and Paleontology of Moià.
[photo Jordi Badia]
See the article La paradoxa espanyola, in Catalan, by Jordi Badia.