Thursday, October 24, 2019

White Pine Public Museum - Home of the Cave Bear

White Pine Public Museum in Ely is home of the cave bear. This cave bear is quite impressive, it's a short-faced cave bear, Arctodus simus.

A replica, based on a skeleton found in a cave in White Pine County, is on display in the museum. They recently redid its exhibit area, and the mural painted behind the bear is amazing. This huge bear skeleton is from the female. I learned recently at a lecture by paleontologist Blaine Schubert that only female short-faced cave bears have been found in caves, presumably because they were using them as dens. The much larger males have been found outside caves. Arctodus simus has been found all over North America. It went extinct about 11,000 years ago.

The White Pine Public Museum held a special event with Dennis Hone, one of the discoverers of the Short-faced cave bear from Labor of Love Cave. It was so interesting hearing from him about how the cave was found and what they did once they realized there were a lot of bones in it. I had the opportunity to go caving this past summer with the lead paleontologist, and he's still making cool discoveries in caves in eastern Nevada! Caves are such great time capsules, preserving all sorts of things for thousands and even millions of years.

With the new display, you can get up close and see just how big some of those bones are.

The museum celebrates the cave bear with t-shirts and glasses.

Afterwards there were lots of questions. 

And the kids measured themselves against a cave bear standing upright!

The White Pine Public Museum has lots of other cool exhibits, too, and is definitely worth a visit!
To learn more about Cave Bears, check out the wikipedia page, this National Geographic video, and this great page about cave paleontology.

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