Perfectly preserved Ice Age cave bear unearthed on Siberian island


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The body of an Ice Age cave bear has been discovered in exceptional condition on Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island in Siberia. 

Perfectly preserved Ice Age cave bear unearthed on Siberian island
Credit: NEFU

Scientist Lena Grigorieva said of the island discovery of the adult beast: “Today this is the first and only find of its kind – a whole bear carcass with soft tissues. It is completely preserved, with all internal organs in place including even its nose. Previously, only skulls and bones were found. This find is of great importance for the whole world.”

The remains were found by reindeer herders on the island and the remains will be analysed by scientists at the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) in Yakutsk, which is at the forefront of research into extinct woolly mammoths and rhinos.

The cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) is a prehistoric species or subspecies that lived in Eurasia in the Middle and Late Pleistocene period and became extinct about 15,000 years ago. Preliminary analysis suggests the bear to be between 22,000 and 39,500 years old.

Perfectly preserved Ice Age cave bear unearthed on Siberian island
Credit: NEFU

“It is necessary to carry out radiocarbon analysis to determine the precise age of the bear,” said senior researcher Maxim Cheprasov from the Mammoth Museum laboratory in Yakutsk. The finder transferred the right to research to the scientists of NEFU, he said.

Unique discovery of perfectly preserved extinct cave bear showing its teeth after up to 39,000 years. Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island, or Great Lyakhovsky, is the largest of the Lyakhovsky Islands belonging to the New Siberian Islands archipelago between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea in northern Russia.

A scientific programme for its comprehensive study will be prepared. We will have to study the carcass of a bear using all modern scientific research methods – molecular genetic, cellular, microbiological and others.

Perfectly preserved Ice Age cave bear unearthed on Siberian island
Credit: NEFU

“The research is planned on as large a scale as in the study of the famous Malolyakhovsky mammoth,” said Dr Grigorieva, leading researcher of the International Centre for Collective Use of Molecular Paleontology at the NEFU’s Institute of Applied Ecology of the North.

Recent years have seen major discoveries of mammoths, woolly rhinos, Ice Age foal, several puppies and Cave Lion cubs as the permafrost melts in Siberia.

Source: The Siberian Times [September 12, 2020]



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