A remarkably well-preserved cave lion cub found in Siberia’s permafrost lived 28,000 years ago and may have traces of its mother’s milk inside, scientists have said.
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 the year before, according to a study published in the Quaternary science journal.
Valery Plotnikov, one of the study’s authors, has said Sparta was so well preserved that she still had her fur, internal organs and skeleton.
Mr Plotnikov said: “The find itself is unique; there was no any other such find in Yakutia.
“Maybe, we hope, some disintegrated parts of the mother’s milk (remain intact). Because if we have that, we can understand what its mother’s diet was.”
Sparta and Boris, a male cub, were found just 15m (50ft) away from each other, but are not only from different litters, they were also born thousands of years apart.
Boris lived around 43,448 years ago, the study said.
The two cubs aged one to two months were found by mammoth tusk collectors.
Two other lion cubs named Uyan and Dina have also been found in the region in recent years.
Similar finds in Russia’s vast Siberian region have happened with increasing regularity.
Climate change is warming the Arctic at a faster pace than the rest of the world and has thawed the ground in some areas long locked in permafrost.