Baby – around one month old when it died, too young to open his eyes – was found by local resident Pavel Efimov. Picture: Valery Plotnikov
By Olga Gertcyk
Little cat is possible brother to ‘Boris’ found last year some 15 metres (50ft) away.
Meet Spartak the extinct cave lion cub. His find is a major boost to scientists seeking to clone the lost species back to life.
Discovery of the cub – christened Spartak – is seen as one of the big successes of the summer season in Yakutia where major hunts are underway to find remains of extinct animals such as the once-prolific cave lion, and the woolly mammoths and rhinos.
The frozen kitten has been preserved as if lifelike for up to 50,000 years.
He was found a few weeks ago – and these are his first pictures.
Scientist Dr Valery Plotnikov said the baby – around one month old when it died, too young to open his eyes – was found by local resident Pavel Efimov.
Discovery of the cub – christened Spartak – is seen as one of the big successes of the summer season in Yakutia. Picture: Valery Plotnikov
‘The carcass is whole – the soft tissues, fur, and its long tail have remained intact. ‘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 told The Siberian Times: ‘It could have been a lioness with two cubs.
‘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.’
‘There is an assumption that this is the brother or sister of a kitten, found last year – the location is very close.’ Pictures: Valery Plotnikov
A team of scientists from Yakutia along with foreign colleagues from Sweden, the United States, and Britain is continuing the research. Last year Boris was also described as being in ‘perfect condition’. An enchanting picture showed this cub resting his head on his paw. At the time, expert Dr Albert Protopopov said the find raises hopes of cloning the species back to life.
The condition of the latest cubs is better than of two earlier tiny cave lions named Uyan and Dina – found three years ago. 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.
He will be moved in the coming months to regional capital Yakutsk for analysis.
Two earlier tiny cave lions named Uyan and Dina – found three years ago. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya