Caves are currently widely recognized as preserving paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental archives, such as speleothems, fossil remains, sediments and ice. The recent discovery of an extensive network of passages in Muierilor Cave (Southwestern Carpathians, Romania) calls for immediate attention and inter-disciplinary research.

The preliminary investigations revealed an extensive deposit of fossil remains, along with hibernation and breeding nests and other ichnofabrics (imprints, scratch marks, coprolites, etc.) of cave bears and other Pleistocene mammals. The topography and morphology of the new cave sector suggests that the bone accumulation was the result of abrupt flooding events during MIS3 and sheds new light on the genesis of the formerly studied human and animal fossil assemblage. We propose to take advantage of the pristine condition of this new sector and undertake a multidisciplinary study of the site. This will include paleontological research in a new excavation trench, sedimentology, ichnology, taphonomy, ancient DNA, and virology studies. Fossil remains will be directly (14C) or indirectly (U/Th, OSL) dated. The results will be correlated with those from coeval karst sites in SW Carpathians.

The investigation will bring new insights on the timing of rapid climate changes during MIS3 and the associated environmental changes. It will also bring new information on the behavior, paleodiet and climatically-triggered migrations of Pleistocene mammals in SW Romania.

 

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