28,000-year-old lion cub ‘best preserved Ice Age animal ever found’

28th August, 2021.      //   General Interest  // 

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A cave cub discovered under Siberia’s permafrost is “arguably the best-preserved glacial epoch animal ever found,” scientists have said.

The extinct feline, named Sparta, is estimated to own lived 28,000 years ago.

But its body has been so well protected against deterioration that traces of its mother’s milk could also be identifiable in its stomach, in step with the Centre for Paleogenetics in Stockholm, Sweden. Its fur, skeleton and internal organs are all still present.

The female – who was only 1 or two months old when she died – was found near the Semyuelyakh River in Russia’s Yakutia region in 2018 by two mammoth tusk collectors.

But details of her astonishing condition have only been revealed in the week following a significant study by scientists from France, Japan, Russia, and Sweden now published within the Quaternary journal.

The find was made just 15 metres from where another cub, called Boris, had been discovered the previous year, the report states.

While scientists initially suspected the 2 were from the identical litter, dating has now shown they really lived millennia apart. Boris is believed to own pre-dated Sparta by about 15,000 years.

Valery Plotnikov, one in every of the study’s authors, said: “The find itself is exclusive. Maybe, we hope, some disintegrated parts of the mother’s milk [remain intact] because if we’ve got that, we will understand what its mother’s diet was.”

He added that the bodies of the animals – both cave lions – had no apparent damage inflicted by predators or scavengers, suggesting they will have died in their own den under a snow or earth fall.

Similar finds in Russia’s vast Siberian region have turned up with increasing regularity over recent years.

Climate change is warming the Arctic at a faster pace than the remainder of the globe and has thawed the bottom in some areas long locked in permafrost.