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The cave lion diet, Bocherens says, appears to have been much more finicky than that of today’s lions, which eat just about anything they can catch.We often underestimate the behavioral plasticity of non-human animals. Yes, humans are particularly known for their ability to change their social organization or diet in order to fit their environment. But lots of other animals do this, too. Fallow deer can follow a herd- or harem-type social organization, depending on the population density in their region. A similar density-dependent effect on social organization has been identified in barn cats.
The results may provide new insights into why cave lions died out. When Europe’s climate began to warm about 19,000 years ago, the landscape gradually changed from chilly, open steppes to denser forests. That would have made an inhospitable habitat for reindeer and for the cave lions that depended on them for food.