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Image of the cave bear carcass found in the Siberian permafrost on Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island. Image Credit: NEFU

Image of the cave bear carcass found in the Siberian permafrost on Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island. Image Credit: NEFU


First Ever Preserved Adult Cave Bear Body Found in the Permafrost of Siberia


Summary Points

Image of the adult cave bear head showing the nose an teeth. Image Credit: NEFU


Well preserved carcasses of an adult cave bear and a baby have recently been found thawing from the permafrost in Siberia

This is the first time a well preserved adult cave bear, complete with fur and soft tissue has been discovered.

Cave bears went extinct around 24,000 years ago. The adult specimen will add a wealth of knowledge to what we currently know about these extinct animals.



Well preserved carcasses of an adult cave bear and a baby have recently been found thawing from the permafrost in Siberia


This news article is based on a Press Release from the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk by Anna Baisakova - Sept. 14th, 2020, and the accompanying Siberian Times article.


The well preserved nose of the adult cave bear.  Image Credit: NEFU

The well preserved nose of the adult cave bear. Image Credit: NEFU


The cave bear is one of the most recognized prehistoric bears in Europe. They were also well known to some of the first Europeans. The famous Chauvet cave in France has 30,000-year-old paintings of cave bears on the walls.

The name might lead one to believe they lived in caves; however, cave bears would only use caves to hibernate during the harsh Ice Age winters. Occasionally they would die during hibernation. Over 1000's of years, their bones piled up in caves throughout Eurasia. The cave bear was one of the first Ice Age animals to die off around 24,000 years ago.

The Discovery

Until now, only the bones have been found. However, reindeer herders on the island of Bolshoy Lyakhovsky in Siberia found a remarkably well-preserved carcass that recently emerged from the melting permafrost. This is the first cave bear that still has fur, skin, muscles, and organs well preserved. It even has a well-preserved nose.

Separately, a preserved cave bear cub was also found on the mainland of Yakutia.

According to Lena Grigorieva, an expert on Ice Age mammals, the findings are of "world importance" as this is the first time a whole adult carcass with soft tissues was found completely preserved.

The remains will be studied at the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) in Yakutsk, which also researches extinct woolly mammoths and rhinos in the permafrost.

Preliminary analysis suggests the bear may be from the Karginsky interglacial period, between 22,000 and 39,500 years old. A large-scale research study is planned on the specimens with Russian and foreign colleagues invited to join the study. Research will include a detailed DNA analysis and a stomch content analysis.

Melting Permafrost

Due to rising global temperatures, the arctic permafrost layers have been melting at an alarming rate. Recently several major Ice Age discoveries have been found in the melting Siberian permafrost, including preserved mammoths, wooly rhinos, a foal, and several cave lion cubs. Now cave bears can be added to the list.

Reference:

The International Center for Collective Use "Molecular Paleontology" was opened in March 2015 on the basis of the laboratory "Mammoth Museum named after P.A. Lazarev" RIAEN as a separate structural unit of the institute. The opening of the ICCU became possible due to the agreement on scientific cooperation on the project "Revival of the mammoth and other fossil animals", concluded between NEFU and the South Korean Sooam Biotechnological Institute on September 23, 2012. One of the priority areas of cooperation is joint research in the field of studying the genome of ancient animals.



To learn all about cave bears, check out the Cave Bear Article: Facts and Information.




This news article is based on a Press Release from the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk by Anna Baisakova - Sept. 14th, 2020, and the accompanying Siberian Times article.




Image of the baby cave bear found in the melting permafrost in the mainland of Yakutia. Image Credit: NEFU

Image of the baby cave bear found in the melting permafrost in the mainland of Yakutia. Image Credit: NEFU



Aeriel view of Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island. Credit: Boris Solovyev (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Aeriel view of Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island. Credit: Boris Solovyev (CC BY-SA 4.0)



Image of thawing permafrost layers.  This image is from Herschel Island, but shows what the melting permafrost layers look like. Credit: Boris Radosavljevic(CC BY 2.0

Image of thawing permafrost layers. This image is from Herschel Island, but shows what the melting permafrost layers look like. Credit: Boris Radosavljevic(CC BY 2.0)




Recommended Book:


The Cave Bear Story
By: Bjorn Kurten

This is a well written book about the life and extinction of cave bears. It is written by one of the foremost bear experts, however it is not overly technical. It's a great read for anyone interested in the life of cave bears!



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