A so-called carnivore death cave is believed to have lured thousands of animals to their death.
Scientists believe that the creatures became trapped inside the cavern with no means to escape. Researchers have discovered the ancient fossils of thousands of animals who found their way into the cave millions of years ago.
Although scientists tend to discover more herbivores than carnivores in places such as the Cerro de los Batallones cave system, the numbers of bones belonging to meat-eaters greatly outweighed their vegetarian counterparts.
According to a new study, nearly 98 percent of all the fossils found inside the carnivore death cave belonged to meat-eaters. Included among the bones were red pandas, saber-toothed cats, and “bear dogs.”
Researchers also found fossils from animals that are related to modern elephants, giraffes, rhinoceroses, and horses.
University of Michigan paleontologist and study co-author M. Soledad Domingo offered an explanation as to why only carnivores were discovered inside the cave system.
“Only the carnivores were daring enough to enter. But they were unable to make their way out,” the author explained.
While the study about the cave was recently released, the area was actually discovered quite a few years ago. Miners reportedly stumbled across the system while digging outside of Madrid back in 1991. When they realized the cave contained a large number of fossils, they called in paleontologists to have a look.
It’s currently believed the system was formed nearly 10 million years ago. Researchers believed that the cave had a visible opening the ground which lured young-adult carnivores inside. Unfortunately, many of the animals became trapped in the cave.
Nearly 18,000 fossils have been discovered inside the system as of this writing. Many of the bones belong to animals that were previously unknown to scientists before the discovery of the cave.
Researchers are unclear when the carnivore death cave was filled in. However, paleontologist are continuing to investigate the area in hopes of learning more about the system and the animals found inside.
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