Store

The prehistoric lion cubs from the Ice Age

In Siberia un gruppo di ricercatori russi ha trovato i resti ben conservati di cuccioli di leone delle caverne risalenti ad almeno 10mila anni fa.

An incredible window into the Ice Age has been opened today. It allows us looking back thousands of years. In fact, two 1,000-year-old cubs of cave lion (Panthera leo spelea) have been found in the Siberian region of Yakutia.

 

frozen-cave-lion-151027
One of the two cubs preseved its fur

 

Of these large felines, which hunted in the European flat lands and forests in the Pleistocene, scientists have only found skeleton fragments so far. On the contrary, the cubs in Siberia were amazingly well-preserved, one of them even still had its fur. This is due to the permafrost, the perennially frozen subsoil that protected the bodies of the prehistoric lions from the passage of time.

 

“As far as I know, there has never been a prehistoric cat found with this level of preservation,” Des Moines University fossil felid expert Julie Meachen says, “so this is truly an extraordinary find.”

 

permafrost siberiano
Siberian permafrost

 

The discovery has been made in the summer by a group of Russian researchers. Further information will be released later in November: a press conference will be held at the Academy of Science of Yakutia on 17 November in order to reveal the first analysis on the felines.

 

Leoni delle caverne disegnati nella Grotta Chauvet
Cave lions sketched in Chauvet cave, France

 

The prehistoric lion cubs, ancestors of present lions, will allow palaeontologists learning a lot about this species that went extinct thousands of years ago.

 

“We should be able to get cause of death information, parasite loads of these cubs,” and more, Meachen said.

 

mammut yuka
Yuka, the mammoth cub dating back 39,000 years ago found in Siberia

 

The discovery is not the first present made by permafrost. In 2010, a perfectly preserved 40,000-year-old mammoth cub was found in Siberia. Who knows how many other surprises hare hidden in the thousands-year old ice, guardian of an ancient, mysterious world.

Translated by

Related articles