The Ursus Spelaeus: The King of the Dolomites
On 23 September 1987 a well-known hotelier in Val Badia named Willi Costamoling made an extraordinary discovery. Venturing into one of the caves of the Conturines and reaching the end of a steep incline he uncovered the prehistoric remains of Ursus Spelaeus (a cave bear). This finding was considered quite important for palaeontologists and researchers because they were able to identify that the various periods of glaciation that occurred in the Alps took place in intervals that were much closer than had been previously verified. In fact, remains had been found that date back to 45, 70 and even 90 thousand years ago. This shows us that the Ursus Spelaeus inhabited the land of the Dolomites during the intervals of temperate climate between one ice age and another.
Nicknamed the "King of the Dolomites", Ursus Spelaeus weighed about 500 Kg and was the biggest inhabitant of the area. During the warm seasons he grazed along the elevated hillsides preparing for the long winter hibernation spent in the caves.
Many of the findings made in the famous cave of the Conturines are on display at the Pic Ladin Museum in San Cassiano.