Scientists find 50,000-year-old lion cub – one year after spotting his ‘brother’

Scientists have discovered the remains of a perfectly preserved 50,000-year-old cave lion cub in Siberia.

The baby big cat has since been defrosted from the Russian permafrost and named Spartak.

The cub is suspected to be a lost brother of another ‘kitten’ found last year some 50ft away in the remote region of Yakutia.

The cloning scientists working on the cubs are aiming to restore extinct species such as this once prolific cave-living lion – but also the giant woolly mammoth.


Russian expert Dr Valery Plotnikov said the baby was around one month old when it was killed perhaps by an avalanche, and too young to open his eyes.

It was found by local resident Pavel Efimov.

“The carcass is whole – the soft tissues, fur, and its long tail have remained intact,” revealed Dr Plotnikov.

“The lion is no more than one month old.

“There is an assumption that this is the brother or sister of a kitten, found last year – the location is very close.”

He suspects a lioness and her two cubs were killed by an unknown event.

“Another lion cub, called Boris, was found in this very spot – but just 15 metres away last year.

“So it could have been a lion family.”

Spartak will be “wrapped in film and covered in wet snow ….then he will be put in the freezer to await study” and transported to regional capital Yakutsk, the world’s coldest city.


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A team of scientists from Russia, Britain, the US and Sweden were involved in the find and are now looking for more remains of ancient animals, say local reports.

Boris was last year described as being in ‘perfect condition’.

An enchanting picture showed this cub resting his head on his paw.

At the time, Siberian expert Dr Albert Protopopov said the Boris find raises hopes of cloning the species back to life.

The condition of Boris and Spartak is better than two earlier tiny cave lions named Uyan and Dina – unearthed three years ago.

Analysis will begin this winter into whether cells from the lion could be used to clone the species back to life.

Spartak, like Boris, was found in permafrost on the bank of Tirekhtykh River, in the Abyisky district of Yakutia, also known as the Sakha Republic.

The cave lion – once a native of Britain and the rest of Europe – became extinct about 13,000 years ago.

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