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An ancient cave has proved that sometimes, it's the most daring ones who lose.
What scientists believe is a 9 to 10 million-year-old cave has revealed an interesting conclusion about animal behaviors. The cave was created by sediments, which fell and trickled into cracks in the earth, leaving a discernable amount of space below.
In 1991, miners began drilling in the cave, located nearly 20 miles outside of Madrid, Spain. Within it they found a numerous amount of animal fossils, prompting researchers to believe that the cave must have served as a trap. The possibility of water or food being located at the bottom of the cave lured a number of animals to tempt their fate. But it was only the daring and strong that took on the challenge.
"Only the carnivores were daring enough to enter," study co-author M. Soledad Domingo, a paleontologist at the University of Michigan, said in a Live Science report. "But they were unable to make their way out."
Eventually, other carnivores would make their way towards the cave, smell the rotting carcasses of those daring ones that came before, and would also attempt to find food at the bottom of the cave. Once trapped, the animals likely starved to death, researchers said.
To date, nearly 18,000 fossils have been recovered from the area, most of which belong to carnivorous animals; some belonging to carnivores the researcher's were unaware of until the discovery of the cave. Animal bones found include: red pandas, bear dogs and saber-toothed cats, as well as ancient animals related to modern elephants, giraffes, rhinoceroses and horses.
The cave was eventually filled, forever preserving the tales of those who dared to tempt fate. In addition to being carnivorous, most of the fossils also appeared to belong to "healthy young adults." Most of the herbivores were "smart enough" to avoid the trap, the Huffington Post reported.