By: ASHLEY HOPKINS
Reindeer herders have discovered a perfectly preserved Ice Age cave bear carcass on the Lyakhovsky Islands in Arctic Russia. The melting permafrost on the islands allowed the bear to become visible, and it was found with its teeth, organs and even nose still intact. This discovery is groundbreaking for scientists who had previously only been able to find bones of the species that became extinct about 15,000 years ago.
Ice Age cave bears lived in Europe and Asia during the Pleistocene and became extinct in the Last Glacial Maximum. They were thought to have had a mostly vegetarian diet because of their teeth structures, but studies have shown that they sometimes ate meat. Cave bears were about the same size as a modern day Brown bear, standing around 11.5ft tall when on their hind legs, and weighing about 770 to 1,320 pounds.
“Today this is the first and only find of its kind — a whole bear carcass with soft tissues, it is completely preserved, with all internal organs in place, including even its nose. Previously, only skulls and bones were found. This find is of great importance for the whole world,” said Russian researcher Lena Grigorieva from the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk.
According to a preliminary analysis of the bear, it lived 22,000 to 39,500 years ago. “It is necessary to carry out radiocarbon analysis to determine the precise age of the bear,” said university researcher Maxim Cheprasov. A preserved cave bear cub carcass has also been found on the Russian mainland Yakutia, and scientists are hoping to gain DNA samples from it. Over recent years, many discoveries have been made in Siberean Russia because of the melting permafrost. Among these discoveries have been wooly rhinos, wooly mammoths, puppies, and cave lion cubs.