Animal osteological finds from cave No. 16 (Moravian Karst)Article PDF
Animal osteological finds from cave No. 16 (Moravian Karst)
The cave No. 16 is situated in the western downslope of the Sloup valley (opposite the „Hřebenáč“ hum) 480 m a.s.l. It is a case of the fissure expanded by corrosion. The total length of the cave is 12 m and the width is 40–60 cm. The cave is terminated by a small free space with a chimney. The following sedimentary cross–section was exposed in the cave: black loam with organic elements, animal bones and pieces of limestone (layer 1, Holocene); black and brown loam with bigger pieces of limestone (layer 2); light-brown loam with numerous pieces of limestone (layer 3); ochraceous loam with animal bones, concretions and pieces of limestone (layer 4); terra rossa with quartz pebbles, without osteological material (layer 5). There was no correct palaeontological research carried out in the cave, so we don’t have any information about the original location of bones. The osteological material was divided into the Pleistocene part and the Holocene part according to the colour of the rests of loam on the bone surface and with regard to the taxon (Pleistocene material probably comes from layer 4, Holocene material from layer 1 and perhaps from layers 2 or 3 also).
118 pieces of the Pleistocene osteological material were determined, 72 % belonged to horse (Equus germanicus) and rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis). Furthermore, the bones of hare (Lepus sp.), reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), white fox (Vulpes lagopus), mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), wolverine (Gulo gulo), red deer (Cervus elaphus), and birds (without exact determination) were found. As regards horse, mainly the bones from extremities have been discovered; skulls and teeth were totally missing. The horse bones were measured and the results were compared with the measurements from several other Moravian Karst caves. The horse from cave No. 16 is Equus germanicus following the measurements. In case of the rhinoceros only bones from extremities were discovered and nearly all of them were gnawed by hyenas. The huge occurrence of a hyena’s browsing leads to conclusion that the cave served as a hyena den during the Pleistocene. The fact that only the bones of extremities were found in case of horse and rhinoceros can be explained by hyena’s gathering only the fleshy parts of prey. The occurrence of the fox and wolverine bones suggests that the cave No. 16 served sometimes as a den for small carnivores too. The taxonomic composition of the fauna from cave No. 16 ranks the Pleistocene osteological material to the second half of the last glaciation period.
76 pieces of the Holocene osteological material were determined, most of them belonged to hare (Lepus europaeus). The bones of the other present taxons were found in significantly lower numbers. These further taxons were found: wolf (Canis lupus), badger (Meles meles), cattle (Bos primigenius f. taurus), domesticated sheep or domesticated goat (Ovis ammon f. aries or Capra aegagrus f. hircus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), domesticated pig or wild boar (Sus scrofa f. domestica or Sus scrofa), cat (Felis silvestris f. catus), human (Homo sapiens), horse (Equus ferus f. caballus) and birds (without exact determination). The cave No. 16 probably served as a den for hares, wolves or badgers during the Holocene. At the other hand the cave was occasionally used by humans too according to the mixture of the wild and domestic animal bones. The cave is not large enough for human dwelling, it could be used only for the storage of food or most probably for littering. The finding of two fragments of human bones is interesting in these circumstances.
Martina Roblíčková, Anthropos Institute, Moravian Museum, Zelný trh 6, 659 37 Brno, Czech Republic, email@example.com