With its nose and teeth intact, a cave bear that died 15,000 years ago was found in perfect condition in Russia.
Arctic thaw continues to reveal perfectly preserved remains of animals from thousands of years ago, whose corpses were frozen in permafrost, the permanently frozen layer of soil that keeps the temperature low in this region of the planet.
On this occasion, the melting caused the appearance of a cave bear cub (Ursus spelaeus) in the Bolshoy Lyakhovsky province, in the far north of Russia.
The finding was made by reindeer herders, who notified the authorities of what looked like a frozen animal with fur, teeth and even the nose in a high degree of conservation.
HUGELY EXCITING! A cave bear carcass has been recovered from the permafrost on an Arctic island – “the first and only find of its kind.” The preservation is remarkable; all internal organs are present. And that nose! Wonderful 📷 NEFU https://t.co/U6nayPIsIp pic.twitter.com/gzggoCyHmA
– The Ice Age ❄️🌞 (@Jamie_Woodward_) September 12, 2020
Although radiocarbon analysis is still required to accurately measure the age of the remains, it is about a unique discovery of its kind, since until now, the only known remains of this extinct bear were made up of scattered bones and skulls:
“This is the first discovery of its kind: a whole bear with soft tissues. It is perfectly preserved, with all its internal organs, including its nose. We only had skulls and bones of this species, until now ”, scientist Lena Grigorieva explained to The Siberian Times, who will be in charge of the team from the Northeast Federal University that will carry out the analyzes of this specimen.
The cave bear lived 50 thousand years ago in the forests of Europe and its name is due to the fact that the vast majority of the fossil finds of this species have been found inside large cave systems, a characteristic that makes them different from the majority of current bears, which only use cavernous shelters to hibernate.
With a height of 1.35 meters at the withers and a weight that could reach 800 kilos, it is one of the largest bears ever known and of similar proportions to the polar and Kodiak bears. Standing on its two hind legs, the cave bear stood up to three meters high.
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Thanks to its imposing musculature, this prehistoric animal it could run quickly and despite its fierceness, its diet consisted of 90% roots, fruits, stems and berries from the forest.
Although the cause of its extinction is unknown approximately 15 thousand years ago, it is likely that Homo Sapiens influenced its disappearance because both competed to use as refuge the wide caves in the vicinity of forests and mountainous areas.
The cave bear discovery adds to several recent paleontological findings, such as a perfectly preserved wolf cub from 18,000 years ago and a complete mammoth skeleton in Siberia in the last year.
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