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'Lake Baikal: the very name fills Russian hearts with awe'
Mike Carter, The Observer

Whiskers still bristling after more than 12,000 years in the Siberian cold 

By The Siberian Times reporter
28 December 2015

Unveiled: two extinct cave lions - dug from the permafrost - make their first appearance since Pleistocene times.

Today in Yakutsk, the coldest city on Earth, the pre-historic specimens were revealed to the media in a permafrost cave, perhaps reminiscent of their natural habitat when they roamed Siberia. Picture here and below: Vera Salnitskaya

The ancient cubs, called Uyan and Dina, the best-preserved ever seen of this long-gone species, are a 'sensational' find, according to scientists who normally choose their adjectives with studied caution. 

Today in Yakutsk, the coldest city on Earth, the pre-historic specimens were revealed to the media in a permafrost cave, perhaps reminiscent of their natural habitat when they roamed Siberia. 

They were displayed on giant slabs of ice, the size of plump domestic cats. The permafrost preserved them in wondrous lifelike detail for at least 12,000 years but they could be even more ancient: only now will tests commence to establish their true age.

Frozen cave lions


Frozen cave lions


Frozen lion cubs

The permafrost preserved them in wondrous lifelike detail for at least 10,000 years. 

The cubs were found in Abyisky district, on the bank of the Uyandina River,' said Dr Albert Protopopov, head of the mammoth fauna studies department of the Yakutian Academy of Sciences. 

There was a summer rise in the river level, and when the water subsided there were landslides and cracks. Worker Yakov Androsov said: 'In one crack, we saw an ice lens with some pieces inside. We decided to take a closer look and found the cubs.' 

The river is just below the Arctic Circle, some 1,045 kilometres north east of regional capital Yakutsk. 'This find, beyond any doubt, is sensational,' said Protopopov. The cubs 'are complete with all their body parts: fur, ears, soft tissue and even whiskers'. They are, he claimed, unique in the world, the most complete remains of cave lions ever found. 

Frozen cave lions


Frozen cave lions


Frozen cave lions


Frozen cave lions


Frozen cave lions

The cubs were the size of plump domestic cats.

Might it be possible to clone the cave lions? The scientists were not ready to discuss the issue, although there are plans to use DNA found in remains of ancient, extinct woolly mammoths in the same region to bring the beasts back to life. 'I would not talk about cloning now. Our main task here is to decipher the genome and to work with it. I think that  speculation about cloning is very premature.'

Yet these cave lions are, he claimed, unique in the world, the most complete ever found.

Yakov Androsov


Yakov Androsov

Worker Yakov Androsov, who found the cubs (top). Yakov Androsov(right) poses with Vasily Gorokhov(left), who found mammoth Yuka.

The Siberian Times revealed the existence of the lion cubs last month, provoking interest from around the world. Yet today is the first time the remains of these ancient creatures have been widely seen, revealed by Russian scientists more familiar with discovering the relics of the extinct woolly mammoth.

'Possibly, the cubs died in a hole, in a landslide, and afterwards this site was never affected by weather,' said the academic. 'This is how we explain such unique preservation of the animals.'

Frozen cave lions


Frozen cave lions


Frozen cave lions


Frozen cave lions

'Possibly, the cubs died in a hole, in a landslide, and afterwards this site was never affected by weather.'

Dr Protopopov said: 'Comparing with the modern lion cubs, we think that these two were very small, maybe a week or two old. The eyes were not quite open, they have baby teeth and not all had appeared. 

'We do not know the gender, but we will give them the names in honour of Uyandina river, where they were found, that is Uyan and Dina assuming one is male and other female. Yet we have options for two females - Uyana and Dina, or two males - Uyan and Din.'

Further research will include an MRI scan, and radiocarbon dating probably at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. But the Siberian team wants to find and co-operate with a world renowned expert of lion cubs.

Albert Protopopov


Frozen lion cub


Frozen lion cubs

Albert Protopopov: 'This find, beyond any doubt, is sensational.'

Scientist Dr Gennady Boeskorov said: 'The main complexity of our task is that here we have not adult lions, but cubs, so we are searching for the specialists experienced in the research of cubs. It's interesting to see the adaptive mechanisms, which helped them to survive in the cold. They definitely differed from the modern lions, and we think there should be something that allowed them to adapt to the climate.'

Dr Protopopov said: 'We suppose that the cave lioness behaved like the modern lioness in pride,' he said. 'It seems like she gave birth to the cubs and hid them in cave or hole to protect from the hungry lion. Then the landslide covered it and they remained surrounded in permafrost. Also the air intake was blocked, and this helped their preservation.'

Gennady Boeskorov


Frozen lion cub


Frozen lion cub

Dr Gennady Boeskorov said: 'The main complexity of our task is that here we have not adult lions, but cubs.'

Next year researchers will go back to the site and search for remains of possibly one more cub, or even the lioness. 

The remote region where the lions were found, known as Yakutia or the  Sakha Republic, is the largest in the Russian Federation. The cave lions became extinct round 12,000 years ago. 

Cave lions - Panthera spelaea (Goldfuss) - lived during Middle and Late Pleistocene times on the Eurasian continent, from the British Isles to Chukotka in the extreme east of Russia, and they also roamed Alaska and northwestern Canada. Finds of  their remains are rare, and the Yakutian scientists  have no hesitation in saying that this pair are best preserved ever unearthed in the world. 

Map


Map

The cubs were found in Abyisky district, on the bank of the Uyandina River, in 57 kilometres from Belaya Gora village. 

After the ice lions were found, tests were conducted to ensure they did not carry ancient diseases: but they were given the all clear. Research on the two cubs could help to explain why the species died out around 10,000 years ago, since the animal had few predators, was smaller than herbivores, and was not prone to getting bogged down in swamps, as did woolly mammoths and rhinos.

One theory is a decline in deer and cave bears, their prey, caused their demise.  

Comments (7)

Note: Please read my comments from today (10-08-16/August, 10, 2016) below in reverse order. Unfortunately, I had to break it up after writing it, into smaller pieces due to a length limit, so it is posted in reverse order. I apologize.. I should have accounted for this and reversed the order of posting.
AmericanReader, Morning Star, WV
10/08/2016 02:58
0
0
(Final paragraph of my comment)



We HAVE to try...it (preserved brain material) is all we have left of "direct experience" with those eras. What a knowledge resource they could be. What an exciting way to excite youngsters about a career in science, to see this ancient world brought to life before their eyes and ears!
AmericanReader, Morning Star, WV
10/08/2016 02:39
1
0
(Continued, due to unfortunate length limits)

Now, imagine that, at the same time, we will have brain chips and the ability to "experience" things directly in our brains, without the need for a video screen or speakers. We will be able compile, from the preserved brains of mummified creatures, a living digital record of our planets distant past...and experience bits of it first hand, just as they did, from their preserved memories in their mummified brains. I know it sounds ghoulish, but it's all we have...and we should preserve these brains for the technology we will have many decades from now.

Please forward this idea to researchers, or at least research students. And please comment here, and on the other article about this in order to drum up interest. Just imagine the possibilities of seeing that ancient lost world through the eyes of a long dead animal! It is very exciting to me...just the slight possibility.

(to be continued due to unfortunate length limits)
AmericanReader, Morning Star, WV
10/08/2016 02:37
0
0
http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/n0702-mummified-remains-of-mystery-monster-found-in-yakutia/

Here is another one! A mummified creature from millions of years ago.

Imagine if there are memories of those earlier times still locked in the mummified brain matter. I know they would be corrupted beyond any recovery by today's standard of technology. But, if the brain were preserved, with some sort of quantum based data retrieval technology from years or decades from now, and much more advanced algorithms running on the advanced quantum computers of tomorrow...perhaps much of the data corruption could be sorted out? Then we could see and hear what they saw and heard (and smelled) from a lost world, tens of millions of years ago. (to be continued)
AmericanReader, Morning Star, WV
10/08/2016 02:33
0
0
Here is another article about an animal, a bison from over 9000 years ago, that was preserved by freezing. It may possibly be a good candidate for the brain reading idea I suggested. The article specifically mentioned that it's brain was preserved in good shape and is being removed. Hopefully it will be kept mostly intact & preserved. If it is preserved, and if, as I anticipate, the technology for recovering the data from a long deceased brain is developed in the coming years or decades, then it may be possible to view, hear and smell the world as it was over 9000 years ago (and from the perspective of a bison, lol). We are currently developing the brain/computer interface technology for people who are paralyzed or even "locked in" and unable to communicate. This technology, once it is fully developed, will allow people to communicate with each other via a technological form of telepathy...and, with permission, experience each others emotional and sensory perspective. It is only a short hop from that to being able to stream the extracted emotions and sensory experience (and rudimentary thoughts as well) of animals into our brains...and then it would be possible to do the same thing with the extracted memories of long-dead animals, or even humans such as Otzi. Although, of course, with humans there would be some ethical concerns. I think that learning about our past, as well as rediscovering lost languages from ancient humans lost in the ice, would trump all ethical concerns though. I know this probably sounds ghoulish, but the technology will exist within two decades or so, and we'd better get ready for it.

Another possibility that will probably NOT sound ghoulish, in fact which I think is heartwarming is this. Parents and grandparents and great grandparents, etc, could pass along their exact memories to their offspring and other descendants. This would preserve irreplaceable family memories far better than word of mouth because a digitally enhanced full sensory and full emotional record would always and forever be available. Older people struggle with words to describe things to children and can't really pass on their memories because the emotions simply don't translate into language. The children nod, but they don't really get it, and so it is lost. Think of the memories that could be passed along with full emotional resonance and the full sensory experience, and which could be recorded for all time. Think of the family members that are long gone, for example, the great grandparents of your great grandparents who could be "met" in a way and interacted with, by their own great, great, great, great grandchildren through this technology! And then imagine how the past, the "good old days" would come alive for the kids! Imagine the stabilizing social effect that could have on society, to be able to gain a direct "long view" perspective on history and the more respectful and respectable social mores of the past.

http://www.livescience.com/48653-bison-mummy-brains-organs.html?cmpid=514645_20160215_58226246&adbid=699323301353517056&adbpl=tw&adbpr=15428397
AmericanReader, Morning Star, WV
16/02/2016 11:01
10
0
My heart breaks, too, at all the bits of the story we lose. I love your idea. It reminds me of a sci-fi story I read years ago. Closer to reality now, it would seem.
Bernard, Los Angeles
09/01/2016 05:24
14
0
An idea has occurred to me which is not possible yet, but may be possible to do with these cubs, as well as other ancient, but well preserved animals in 20-30 years.

I assume that in the future, it will be possible to noninvasively scan preserved brain material at the quantum level, perhaps with terahertz radiation or something else if that is not suitable. From this we would have the total readout at the quantum level of every subatomic particle comprising the brain, and the complete 3D positioning of each subatomic particle.

Then, using quantum computers and advanced algorithms, and the greater knowledge that we will have about memory encoding, we could treat the preserved brains like an ancient preserved hard drive & recover visual & audio & other data of this long lost world. We already do this with mechanical hard drives now, and can crack some encryption. I don't see an ancient brain as being absolutely impossible to forensically analyze anymore than anything that we do today. The information is probably largely still there, and sophisticated algorithms running on the advanced quantum computers of tomorrow, trillions to quadrillions (or more), more powerful than any mere conventional supercomputer that we have today, SHOULD, be able to unscramble some or even (eventually) all of that data corruption...and recreate the memories. Of course their eyes were not open yet, so this would severely limit what could be recovered using this method, but I hope these animals are preserved so that this technique can be tried in a few decades.

Another, more speculative, idea I've had, is that perhaps in skeletons found with undisturbed dirt where the brain once was, "maybe" we are making a SERIOUS mistake in not considering that this former brain material "might" still contain some retrievable information from the deceased. This matter is definitely in almost every case the brain (plus dissolved mineral containing water deposits) and very little else. Of course it is disturbed & converted by worms & bacteria as well, but perhaps, using advanced forensics technology many orders of magnitude more advanced & intricate than we have today, perhaps we could retrieve "some" kinds of patterns by using algorithms to descramble the ravages of time. Things, including deterioration & conversion have patterns, things happen in a certain order & then lead to other things. Who can say for certain that there is no way to use a quantum computer and advanced sub quantum scanning and insanely advanced & complicated algorithms to, in effect, simulate running entropy & the ravages of mother nature backwards to uncover the original state of the brain before various complicated processes turned it to dirt.

Yes, I nothing about this is possible today, and that the amount of data would be impossible to store today. However, I am assuming that computer science, including the coming quantum technology, will make these barriers fall. I think that the material that used to be brain material, in human skeletons & animals should be extracted (if necessary) in a nondestructive way & carefully preserved "in situ", for the study by scientists decades from now. Sadly, all this material is treated as being worthless today and discarded, as I understand it. This MUST change. We should just "assume" that future generations will have better technology that will seem impossible to us today, and will seem like magic to our eyes; and we should preserve anything from these discoverys that we can't make use of, for the ones that come after us.

I hope this comment inspires some scholar to do something about this idea.
AmericanReader, Morning Star, WV
08/01/2016 12:54
15
0
1

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