Perfectly Preserved Cave Lion Cub Gives Hope to Cloning Cave Lions Back to Life

Fagjun | Published 2017-11-12 05:06

The well-preserved remains of a cave lion cub that dates back to the last Ice Age may make it possible to resurrect cave lions.


The paws of the cub are still discernible, tens of thousands of years after its death.



Cave lions were a subspecies of the lions we have today. They went extinct about 10,000 years ago, close to the time the last Ice Age of the late Pleistocene ended. Scientists don’t know much about this species, and what they do know, they learned from ancient cave lion bones and tracks.

Secrets of the Permafrost


Video by The Siberian Times

However, we may learn more about these animals with the discovery of an intact, well-preserved corpse of a year-old cave lion cub that has remained in the permafrost for 50,000 years. The remains were found by a local in the Yakutia region in northeastern Russia, frozen in such a way that you can still see how the little cub rested its head on its paw before it died.


Findings like these in the Yakutia region aren’t new or uncommon. Two years ago, two other cave lion cubs were discovered in the region’s permafrost.


The remains of Uyan



The two previous discoveries, named Uyan and Dina, were found to be quite young when they died. They were likely just about two to three weeks old, and they likely died when their den collapsed and trapped them under ground. Uyan and Dina, scientists say, hadn’t opened their eyes yet and hadn’t grown all their teeth. The more recently discovered cub, meanwhile, already had its teeth.


The remains of Uyan and Dina were found to be around 12,000 years old. They were also found in the permafrost, or permanently frozen ground, which is capable of preserving the remains of many other species.


The new cub's facial features are also still discernible.



For now, the new cub still doesn’t have a name, and not much is known about it. Scientists still haven’t determined if it was male or female, or what its cause of death was. However, studying the cub is promising. It is so well-preserved that its individual paws are still discernible, and there are visible tufts of grey fur on the body, which is about 45 centimeters long and and weighs about four kilograms.


So far, that’s all that’s known about the new cub. However, further analysis always has the potential of finding something remarkable, especially when the remains have been preserved this well. There’s also the possibility that scientists can resurrect this long-extinct species through cloning, though of course we’d have to think long and hard if that’s a good idea.

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