Cave bear skeletons were first described in 1774 by Johann Friederich Esper in his book Newly Discovered Zoolites of Unknown Four Footed Animals. While scientists at the time considered that the skeletons could belong to apes, canids, felids, or even dragons or unicorns, Esper postulated that they actually belonged to polar bears. Twenty years later, Johann Christian Rosenmüller, an anatomist at the Leipzig University, gave the species its binomial name. The bones were so numerous that most researchers had little regard for them. During World War I, with the scarcity of phosphate dung, earth from the caves where cave bear bones occurred were used as a source of phosphates. When the "dragon caves" in Austria's Styria region were exploited for this purpose, only the skulls and leg bones were kept.