Thursday, October 29, 2015

10,000-year-old Cave Lion Cubs Found Perfectly Preserved

Wed, 10/28/2015
Lauren Scrudato, Associate Editor

Perfectly preserved remains of two ancient lion cubs have been found in Eastern Russia, according to the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia.
Photo: Academy of Sciences of Yakutia
Photo: Academy of Sciences of Yakutia

The 10,000-year-old cave lion cubs were unearthed completely intact thanks to the region’s permafrost deposits. Prior to the discovery this summer, only carcass fragments and individual bones had ever been recovered.

The Eurasian cave lion, or Panthera leo spelaea, was known as one of the largest cats in history, averaging 5-10 percent higher than today’s lions. These lions, a close relative to the modern Afro-Asiatic lion, roamed from Russia’s far east to the British Isles, as well as northwestern Canada and Alaska. Adults stood at a shoulder height of about 4-feet, and were known to stalk other big predators like horses, reindeer and possibly young mammoths.

Researchers are unclear of how the species became extinct, but theories of a decline in prey, possibly due to human hunting or climate change may have played a role.

These big cats have been seen in Paleolithic cave paintings, clay figurines and ivory carvings.
The Sakha Republic of Siberia, also known as Yakutia, is famous for many other ancient mammal finds, as BBC reported last year.

The Academy of Science of Yakutia plans to present the lion cubs with a few other notable finds, including a woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros and ancient bison in late November. Researchers will then divulge more information on the preliminary studies conducted on the pair of cubs.


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