In news- Scientists have discovered a well-preserved Cave Lion cub in Siberia’s permafrost that lived 28,000 years ago.
- The female cub, named Sparta, was found at the Semyuelyakh River in Russia’s Yakutia region in 2018 and a second lion cub called Boris was found in 2017.
- The cubs were found 15 metres apart but are not only from different litters but were also born thousands of years apart.
- Boris, the male cub, would have lived around 43,448 years ago.
- The two cubs aged 1-2 months were found by mammoth tusk collectors.
- Sparta was so well preserved that it still had its fur, internal organs and skeleton and may even still have traces of its mother’s milk in it.
- Two other lion cubs named Uyan and Dina have also been found in the region in recent years.
- Cave lions have been extinct for thousands of years.
- The find itself is unique as there was no other such find in Yakutia region.
About Cave Lion-
- Panthera spelaea, also known as the Eurasian cave lion, European cave lion or steppe lion, is an extinct Panthera species that most likely evolved in Europe about 600,000 years ago.
- Analysis of fossil bone samples revealed that it was highly distinct and genetically isolated from the modern lion (Panthera leo) occurring in Africa and Eurasia.
- P. spelaea formed a contiguous population from Europe to Alaska over the Bering land bridge.
- The oldest known bone fragments were excavated in Yakutia and radiocarbon dated at least 62,400 years old.
- The youngest known fossils are dated 11,925 years old and originated near Fairbanks, Alaska.
- It inhabited open environments such as mammoth steppe and boreal forest.
It was one of the keystone species of the mammoth steppe, being one of the main apex predators alongside grey wolf, cave hyena and brown bear and were primarily consuming reindeer.