Culture

Year Old Siberian Cave Lion Found Intact, Could Be Cloned

An employee of the Royev Ruchey zoo holds a two-day-old lion cub in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk March 18, 2010.

A lion cub found frozen in Siberia is so perfectly preserved after 50,000 years that it has raised hopes that the animal could be cloned.

Scientists are yet to figure out why they died off. This was also around the time the cave lion became extinct. Scientists have now expressed the possibility of making its clone, thereby reviving the species.

Excited scientists unveiled the discovery - its facial features clearly visible - in Yakutsk today. The animal is said to be between one and a half to two months old, however, it is not clear if it was male or female.

An extinct cave lion cub has been found in the Siberian permafrost in "perfect condition" after nearly 50,000 years. For starters, they plan to look at its teeth to determine more precisely how old it was at the time of death. The duo was named Uyan and Dina.

Boris Berezhnov, a resident of the Abyysky District of Yakutia, spotted the unfamiliar remains in September, exposed on a bank of the Tirekhtykh River during a drop in water levels, according to a report from The Siberian Times.

Expert Dr. Albert Protopopov stated, "It is a perfectly preserved lion cub, all the limbs have survived".

The lion is small, just 45 centimetres (17.7 inches) long and weighs 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds). There are no traces of external injuries on the skin, ' wrote The Siberian Times.

Even more tantalisingly, a CT scan revealed that the stomach of one of the cubs could have retained traces of its mother's milk.

Protopopov says that the lion is not related to two previous cubs found frozen in the area, and is from a different litter.

'The preservation degree is better still.' The latest cub is also slightly older.

While the first duo was assumed to be approximately 12,000 years old, belonging to the time of the species' extinction, recent findings suggest that they might be between 20,000 and 50,000 years old.

Analysis of the creature's teeth is expected to give a good indication of the age. But a new discovery from the Asian Arctic is exceedingly - and excitingly - abnormal: a baby cave lion so pristinely preserved that you can still see the expression on its face.



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