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Upper Pleistocene Panthera leo spelaea (Goldfuss, 1810) skeleton remains from Praha-Podbaba and other lion finds from loess and river terrace sites in Central Bohemia (Czech Republic)

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Author(s): Diedrich C G

Journal: Bulletin of Geosciences
ISSN 1214-1119

Volume: 82;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 99;
Date: 2007;
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Keywords: Panthera leo spelaea (Goldfuss 1810) | open air sites | Upper Pleistocene loess pits | Central Bohemia | bone taphonomy | palaeobiogeography

ABSTRACT
Historical finds of bone remains of Panthera leo spelaea (Goldfuss) from the Upper Pleistocene loess open air site at Praha-Podbaba (Czech Republic) are reviewed. The largely complete cranium from Central Bohemia and finds from other sites in Czech Republic are also described. The bone proportions of the cranial and postcranial material from Podbaba indicate them to have come from an adult male lion carcass. One foreleg and lower jaw belonged to an adult female as evidenced by their much smaller proportions. A few additional bones were found at other loess pits around Praha along the Vltava River and at open air sites along the Berounka River close to Beroun. By undertaking a preliminary overview of these finds and other bones from cave sites in Central Bohemia, a first palaeobiogeographical distribution of these extinct carnivores can be presented. The lion remains from the open air sites, were found alongside the typical glacial cold-period macrofauna consisting of a few Mammuthus primigenius (Blumenbach), but mainly Coelodonta antiquitatis (Blumenbach) bones, which were often well-chewed by Ice Age spotted hyenas. Other faunal remains were found in the loess sites, and these appeared, in most cases, to be hyena prey depots or scavenging sites. These remains included Bison priscus (Bojanus), Equus ferus Boddaert [partly Equus przewalskii (Poljakoff)], Equus hemionus (Pallas), Rangifer tarandus (Linnaeus), Cervus elaphus Linnaeus, Capra ibex (Linnaeus) and rarely Rupricapra rupricapra (Linnaeus). The latter two animals indicate that an alpine fauna existed in Central Bohemia during the early and middle Upper Pleistocene. Some lion remains and locations described here may be of Saalian Age, during which a similar fauna existed. The bone accumulations, including lion remains, are probably, in many cases, hyena prey deposits. Their presence in caves seems to have been mainly the result of hyena and lion conflicts, and lion kills which were imported, often as complete carcasses, into the hyena cave dens such as the one at Srbsko Chlum-Komín. Their carcasses seemed to have very often been imported by hyenas into their dens in loess along the Weichselian river valleys, the Vltava and Berounka Rivers. In some cases, lions may have been killed at the conflict site, and been scavenged there. The proven minimum number of individuals (MNI) lions for the Weichselian in Central Bohemia can be estimated from cave and open air sites to be about 20 compared with a provable hyena MNI of more than twice this number at about 48 individuals.

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