de Carlis, A., Alluvione, E., Fonte, A., Rossi, M. & Santi, G.
Morphometry of the Ursus spelaeus remains from Valstrona (Northern Italy)

Geo.Alp 2, 2005, p. 115–126

Morphometric analyses on cave bear fossils of the Valstrona-Valsesia region (Piedmont, Northern Italy) (in particular from the Delle Streghe Cave), allow the distinction of at least two or three populations of Ursus spelaeus Rosenmüller, 1794, of different sizes. Elements of smaller size are likely to be found in the Buco dell’Orso Cave (Laglio, Como province, Lombardy), and in the older strata of the Grotta Sopra Fontana Marella –GSFM- (Varese province). Differences in size can be linked to the chronological position of the fossils studied: in fact, fossils of smaller dimensions should be chronologically older, but can also be linked to climatic and thermoregulation factors. The increase of size could represent a response to a cooler climate. An alternative hypothesis associates this reduction of size to the cooler climatic shift. Observations on the Delle Streghe Cave fossils indicate that they are very similar to those inferred for the GSFM population, linking this trend to climatic variation. The reason for an increase in size could also be linked to the rapid evolution of the cave bears and the Delle Streghe fossils should cover a chronological range approximately similar to the fossils from GSFM.

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