Lutra 59(1-2)_Kuijper et al_2016

One of the last wild brown bears (Ursus arctos) in the Netherlands (Noordwijk)

Early in 2016, bones of a left front leg of a brown bear (Ursus arctos) were found in the dunes between Noordwijk and Zandvoort (Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen - Amsterdam Water Supply Dunes). The stratigraphical composition of the find horizon was identified as the old surface (palaeosoil) of the so-called ‘Oude Duinen’ (Old Dunes). The find horizon has yielded many shells and malacological research has indicated the former presence of a centuries-old, undisturbed, moist, deciduous forest. This forest was located at the border of Rijnland and Kennemerland, and remained unaffected by man for a long time. Shifting sand has since formed younger dunes on top of older ones. This process started around the year 1000 AD. The skeletal remains were 14C dated to 1140 ± 30 BP, which calibrates to 880-970 calAD. This means that the remains are from the late Holocene age and belong to one of the last wild brown bears in the Netherlands, which was one of the largest mammals living in the Netherlands at this time. Zoological data and historical sources indicate that the last brown bear occurred in the Netherlands around the year 1000 AD. To contextualise the finding we also present an overview of all finds of the brown bear known from the Dutch Holocene.