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THE COLLECTIONS

Introduced by a showcase illustrating the geology of Monte Fenera, the prehistoric section first focuses on the characteristics of Neanderthal man, fossil remnants of whom have been found inside the caves. In this part of the exhibition itinerary, you will see the “evolutionary bush” that led to the development of Homo sapiens.

The lithic tools on display come from surface gatherings and archaeological excavations at the Ciota Ciara, Ciutarun and Riparo Belvedere caves. They are made of different types of rocks: vein quartz, jasper and spongolite (a type of flint) – coming from the area of Monte Fenera – and radiolarite, the latter found about 30 km away.

Scrapers and denticulates are recognisable, as well as unretouched splinters obtained with the Levallois technique which can be ascribed to the Middle Paleolithic, whilst the subsequent Upper Paleolithic phase is attested by some lamellae.

All findings related to the Pleistocenic fauna show the visitor how the environment and the animal population of the area changed during the last 300,000 years.

Among the numerous objects kept in the museum one can see fossilized relics of: cave lions, lynxes, aurochs, rhinoceroses and cave bears. A recomposed skeleton of a specimen of the latter is on display.

The immediate precursor of the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) was probably Ursus Deningeri, a species limited to Pleistocenic Europe, which lived from 1.8 Mya to approximately 100,000 years ago. The transition between the Deninger’s bear and the cave bear probably took place during the last interglacial, although the boundary between these species is arbitrary and intermediate or transitional taxa have been proposed.

The dimensions of the speleo bear were impressive: males could reach 3 meters in height in an upright position and weighed up to 1000 kilograms, while females were about half their size: the average dimensions were therefore greater than those of the biggest grizzly bears.

The dentition of Ursus spelaeus suggests that this species followed an herbivorous and especially frugivorous regime. In fact, during their long evolutionary life, cave bears significantly reduced the size of their feral teeth and developed molars increasingly suitable for chewing.

In addition to Monte Fenera, an exceptional number of remnants of this animal have been found in many caves in Central Europe: in Italy, in the Toirano Caves in Liguria, in the Buco del Piombo and the Bear Cave in Lombardy, in the Bear Cave in Friuli Venezia Giulia, in the Monte Cucco Caves in Umbria and the Stiffe Caves in Abruzzo.

The bears probably hibernated in the caves and, in some cases, lost their lives due to natural causes or were killed on the spot by prehistoric hunters.

The cave bear became extinct about 24,000 years ago, during the last glaciation of the Pleistocene and did not leave any descendant. Some studies carried out on a large quantity of bones seem to suggest that one of the possible causes of the extinction of this large mammal was its predominantly vegetarian diet, not compatible with the cold climate of the glacial periods. In various archaeological sites (Grotta della Ciota Ciara, della Paina and Grotta di Trene) bone samples have been found which prove this hypothesis and show slaughter marks caused by men; this fact suggests that these animals may have finally become extinct also because they were predated by humans.

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Museum Hours

9:30–6:00, Monday Until 8:00

Museum Location

2270 S Real Camino Lake California

The Loquet Museum fuels a journey of discovery across time to enable
solutions for a brighter future rich in nature and culture.

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The C. Conti Museum is temporarily closed to the public for technical and structural interventions. 

For info, group bookings and curiosity please write an e-mail to museocarloconti@gmail.com.

We remind you that the Habitat Bear Paths can be used independently. See the project page on our website!