Almost perfect 28,000-year-old lion cub found in thawing Siberian permafrost

The best-preserved Ice Age lion cub dated to around 28,000 years ago has been found in Siberia's thawing permafrost due to climate change. Sparta is the younger of two lion cubs found in the permafrost. The other has been named Boris and he is dated to 43,448 years ago. They believe that both clubs died when they were a couple of months of age perhaps due to a landslide or falling through a permafrost crack in the ground.

Almost perfect 28,000-year-old lion cub found in thawing Siberian permafrost
Almost perfect 28,000-year-old lion cub found in thawing Siberian permafrost. Photo: Centre for Palaeogenetics


Sparta is very well preserved with grey to light brown fur. Her whiskers were also preserved. She is largely undamaged. They were unearthed in 2017 and 2018 by hunters of mammoths in the Semyuelyakh River, Yakutia, in what is now eastern Russia.

Location of lion cub finds
Location of lion cub finds. Source: the study mentioned below.

The Independent newspaper tells us that only four Ice Age lion cubs have been discovered. They referred to a scientific study called The Preliminary Analysis of Cave Lion Cubs Panthera spelaea (Goldfuss, 1810) from the Permafrost of Siberia. The summary of the study states:
"A preliminary description is presented of the well-preserved frozen mummies of two cubs of the extinct cave lion Panthera spelaea (finds of 2017–2018, Semyuelyakh River, Yakutia, eastern Siberia, Russia). The fossil lion cubs were found in close proximity, but they do not belong to the same litter, since their radiocarbon ages differ: the female (named ‘Sparta’) was dated to 27,962 ± 109 uncal years BP, and the male (named ‘Boris’) was dated to 43,448 ± 389 uncal years BP."
They state that the cubs were 1-2 months old. They both lived in a cave. They are called cave lions and they believe that the light coloration of the fur was an adaptation for Northern snow-covered landscapes.


The melting permafrost due to global warming has created a 'a large mammoth-tusk hunting industry'. The temperatures in Siberia have been amazing; up in the 30s Celsius. There have been extensive forest fires too. If anyone still doubts that climate change is happening, think again. The scientists have brought forward the date at which it will be irreversible unless profound changes are made to humankind's lifestyle.

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