‘Perfect’ cave lion cub frozen in Siberia for 50,000 years raises cloning hopes

Rob Waugh

A tiny 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, according to the Siberian Times.

The tiny animal was preserved in permafrost, the reseachers say, and was unveiled in Yakutsk this week.

Cave lions are now extinct. The creature is thought to have died between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago, the researchers say.

Albert Protopopov of the Sakha Republic Academy of Sciences said, ‘It is a perfectly preserved lion cub, all the limbs have survived. There are no traces of external injuries on the skin.

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Global warming has thawed ground in eastern Russia that is usually almost permanently frozen, leading to the discoveries of a number of frozen creatures.

Scientists are examining mammoths found frozen in the ice o look for genes which separate mammoths from elephants – such as the genes for a shaggy coat, in the hope the creatures can be cloned.

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

He said, ‘Everyone was amazed then and did not believe that such a thing is possible, and now, two years later, another cave lion has been found in the Abyiski district.

‘The cub was found on the river Tirehtakh, it is in a different locality, and it is obviously larger and older than Uyandinsk lions, so they are from different litter.’