Have you ever been walking along somewhere and noticed something interesting looking on the ground? You walk over to investigate and find out it’s nothing more than a piece of garbage or some other innocuous object. It’s a pretty disappointing feeling. Well a recent find in Siberia, Russia will make you want to investigate everything you see. It is a pretty big find for the scientific community, who are abuzz with anticipation at the opportunity to research and study this amazing piece of history. What is it that has people from all over the world heading to Siberia you ask? Well it is two of the most well-preserved extinct animals ever found, two frozen cave lions!
This is Siberia. Located in Russia, it is considered one of the most inhospitable and unforgiving environments on the entire planet.
The two frozen cave lions were found in the Abyisky district, on the bank of the Uyandina River.
The two cubs have been named Uyan and Dina. They are considered by scientists to be the best preserved specimens of this species that has been extinct for 12,000 years.
The specimens were revealed to the press in the city of Yakutsk, the coldest city on Earth.
An actual permafrost cave was used as the location for the unveiling. The specimens were kept on slabs of ice. Scientists have said the cave is possibly reminiscent of the cave lions actual habitat when they roamed the Earth.
The permafrost of Siberia is to thank for the amazing condition the two cubs were found in. Scientists have said they estimate the cubs at around 12,000 years old, but they could possibly be even older.
I can’t imagine what it would be like holding a 12,000 year old piece of nature and history in my hands. It would be such a surreal feeling.
The cubs were found because of a summer rise in the river water levels. When the water subsided, it created landslides and cracks. Researchers saw an ice lens and some objects contained inside it. They decided to take a closer look.
These animals were almost literally frozen in time.
The amount of detail that is still present is quite amazing. The face is still fully recognizable.
Researchers claim that these are the most complete remains of cave lions ever found.
Both cubs have everything still in tact. All the limbs, fur, ears, soft tissue and even whiskers are still attached.
Researchers have said that it is likely the cubs died in either a hole or a landslide. Afterwards the site they died in remained unaffected by the weather. This helped in the incredible preservation of these cave lions.
It is thought that the cubs were smaller than modern lion cubs at the time of their death. Most likely around the size of plump house cats.
Both cubs still had their baby teeth and there eyes were not even open all the way yet. Tragic that they died so young.
The gender of the cubs are not known yet. However scientists have given them names to honor the river they were found near. They also have options if both are female or both are male.
There is still much more research to be done on these two amazing specimens. Next up is most likely an MRI scan and radiocarbon dating that will probably take place at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands.
Researchers are already planning their return trip to the site for next year. They hope to possibly find one more cub, or even the lioness.
Cloning has been brought up as a topic in regards to the cubs. Scientists have said that is very long way off though. Cloning requires the much more knowledge of the genome of this species. Though scientists are in the process of trying to clone a Woolly Mammoth.
More info: The Siberian Times
The further study of these amazing frozen cave lions will undoubtedly yield some amazing results. These amazingly preserved specimens will help us decipher this species genome, and as in the case of Woolly Mammoths, possibly allow us to bring these animals back to life!