Well-preserved bodies of two cave lion cubs which are both believed to be at least 10,000 years old were recently unearthed by paleontologists in the Russian permafrost.
The cave lions, also known as Panthera leo spelaea and named by Georg August Goldfuss, had lived during the Middle and Late Pleistocene on several places including the Eurasian continent, from Siberia to the British Isles, northwestern Canada and Alaska. These animals are closely related to Afro-Asiatic lions.
Researchers said that remains of other animals that also lived during the Pleistocene era have been found before in the Sakha Republic of Siberia where the cubs had been discovered. Among these discoveries were the remains of a Kolyma woolly rhinoceros, the 'Oimyakon' mammoth, the woolly mammoth Yuka, and Yukagir horses and bison.
The bodies of the two cave lion cubs are said to be the most complete and most well-preserved samples of their kind ever found in the whole world. Their apparent extinction is also a mystery as their kind allegedly had few predators and they were smaller than mammoths to be trapped in bogs.
Scientists presume that the cave lions might have had experienced a decline in prey such as deer and cave bears during the Ice Age, although it is still only a theory. Initial investigation has revealed that the bodies of the cubs were not infected with anthrax, scientists said.
Previous expeditions have only been able to find fragments of bones, skeletons and carcasses, and the discovery of the well-preserved remains of the cave lion cubs has significantly changed scientists' understanding of how the extinct creatures had lived.
The existence of these cave lions had been documented in cave paintings in which they are shown to be hunting in a pack. Adult cave lions are also believed to have a shoulder height of nearly four feet.
All of these animal remains will be presented in Russia by the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia in November, as well as the full result of the study regarding the bodies of the two cubs. The team from the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia has also been working closely with Siberian Times.