Not just the bear bones!!!

Opening of Bear Museum: the Museum Ladin Ursus ladinicus in St. Kassian.

ScientistAt 10.00 a.m. on 30 July 2011, the new Bear Museum in St. Kassian in the Gadertal Valley (Val Badia) is opening its doors.

When, on 23 September 1987, Willy Costamoling from Corvara first entered the cave under the mountain known as the Conturines, he could not have imagined that he was to make a find of enormous importance: the cave was full of fossil bones of the cave bear, an animal now extinct. The resulting information is of vital importance in learning and understanding more about the Dolomites in prehistoric times.

In the following years the cave was extensively excavated, measured and investigated by a team from the University of Vienna led by Professor Gernot Rabeder.
The results of the research were sensational: the Conturines bear belonged to a new species of bear, never before described, which was subsequently designated Ursus ladinicus in honour of the Ladin people. The remains of a cave lion were also found.


At an altitude of nearly 2,800 metres, the Conturines cave is the highest ever place of discovery of cave bears and cave lions: these finds are thus of great significance in researching the climatic history of the Dolomites. Some 40,000 years ago, an interglacial period, the climate was so warm that the tree line (today at about 1,900 metres) at that time almost reached the entrance to the cave itself. The bears – pure herbivores – could survive all year round at this extreme height. The female bears gave birth in the cave, and the growing cubs could then graze with their families close by. In the late autumn they would then all withdrew into the cave to hibernate.

The new museum covers these topics in more detail and places them in their paleontological and paleoecological context.

The museum, a branch of the Ladin Museum in St. Martin in Thurn, is on three floors, with the first floor accommodating the cash desk and museum shop. The upper floors contain the exhibition, starting with the evolutionary history of the Dolomites, with a display of the finest and most significant fossils from the area around St. Kassian. The exhibition continues with the origins, discovery and excavation of the Conturines cave, using original exhibits to describe every aspect of the cave bear and its habitat.

In the basement is “the bear’s cave”, a reconstruction of parts of the Conturines cave, complete with a detailed reproduction of a sleeping cave bear.


Opening times

Summer 2013

  • Easter - 31 October
    From Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    Sundays 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
  • July and August:
    From Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
    Sundays 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Winter 2012 - 2013

  • 26 December 2012 - 7 January 2013
    every day 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
  • 10 January 2013 - Easter 2013
    Thursday, Friday and Saturday 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.

The purchase of a ticket for the Museum Ladin Ursus ladinicus also entitles the holder to free entry to the Museum Ladin Ćiastel de Tor.