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First ever preserved grown up cave bear - even its nose is intact - unearthed on the Arctic island

By Anna Liesowska
12 September 2020

Separately at least one preserved carcass of a cave bear cub found on the mainland of Yakutia, with scientists hopeful of obtaining its DNA.

Unique discovery of the perfectly preserved extinct cave bear showing its teeth after up to 39,000 years. Picture: NEFU

More details of the finds are to be announced soon.

Until now only the bones of cave bears have been discovered. 

The new finds are of ‘world importance’, according to one of Russia’s leading experts on extinct Ice Age species. 

Scientist Lena Grigorieva said of the island discovery of the adult beast: '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.’

Unique discovery of perfectly preserved extinct cave bear showing  its teeth after up to 39,000 years


Unique discovery of perfectly preserved extinct cave bear showing  its teeth after up to 39,000 years


Unique discovery of perfectly preserved extinct cave bear showing  its teeth after up to 39,000 years
First ever preserved grown up cave bear - even its nose is intact - unearthed on Bolshoy Lyakhovsky island, with at least one preserved carcass of a cave bear cub found on the mainland of Yakutia. Pictures: NEFU


The remains were found by reindeer herders on the island and the remains will be analysed by scientists at the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) in Yakutsk, which is at the forefront of research into extinct woolly mammoths and rhinos. 

Russian and foreign colleagues will be invited to join the study. 

The cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) is a prehistoric species or subspecies that lived in Eurasia in the Middle and Late Pleistocene period and became extinct about 15,000 years ago.

According to the rough preliminary suggestions the bear could live in Karginsky interglacial (this was the period between 22,000 and 39,500 years).

'It is necessary to carry out radiocarbon analysis to determine the precise age of the bear,’ said senior researcher Maxim Cheprasov from the Mammoth Museum laboratory in Yakutsk.

The finder transferred the right to research to the scientists of NEFU, he said.

Unique discovery of perfectly preserved extinct cave bear showing  its teeth after up to 39,000 years
Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island, or Great Lyakhovsky, is the largest of the Lyakhovsky Islands belonging to the New Siberian Islands archipelago between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea in northern Russia. Picture: Alexander Oboimov


'A scientific programme for its comprehensive study will be prepared. We will have to study the carcass of a bear using all modern scientific research methods - molecular genetic, cellular, microbiological and others.

'The research is planned on as large a scale as in the study of the famous Malolyakhovsky mammoth,’ said Dr Grigorieva, leading researcher of the International Centre for Collective Use of Molecular Paleontology at the NEFU’s Institute of Applied Ecology of the North.

Recent years have seen major discoveries of mammoths, woolly rhinos, Ice Age foal, several puppies and Cave Lion cubs as the permafrost melts in Siberia.

Lena Grigorieva, first from the left, leading researcher of the International Centre for Collective Use of Molecular Paleontology at the NEFU’s Institute of Applied Ecology of the North. Lena is pictured by the carcass of a 42,000 year old foal found inside the Batagai depression in Yakutia

Unique discovery of perfectly preserved extinct cave bear showing  its teeth after up to 39,000 years

Comments (27)

Recent years have seen major discoveries of mammoths, woolly rhinos, Ice Age foal, several puppies and Cave Lion cubs as the permafrost melts in Siberia.

This is not a good sign. The earth is heating up. What will happen next?
V, UK
23/09/2020 02:31
4
2
Congratulations ! Le réchauffement climatique n’a pas que des inconvénients…
DAME Edmond, FRANCE
20/09/2020 16:51
2
2
Thank You Dr Gregorivea and staff. Very interesting.
dean gamradt , minneapolis/usa
18/09/2020 21:19
6
0
Although the growing number well-preserved fossiles delivers progress in science it is still an indication of man-made climate change that leads to the loss of species still alive in Siberia and the rest of our planet. There is nothing to celebrate.
Peter Jastrow, Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany
18/09/2020 17:56
14
8
Excellent! What a magnificent research opportunity. Congratulations to the team, and please keep us posted with updated information. All the best.

Превосходно! Какая великолепная возможность для исследования. Поздравляем команду и, пожалуйста, держите нас в курсе последних новостей. Всего наилучшего.

Prevoskhodno! Kakaya velikolepnaya vozmozhnost' dlya issledovaniya. Pozdravlyayem komandu i, pozhaluysta, derzhite nas v kurse poslednikh novostey. Vsego nailuchshego.
Al Glofcheski, Keewatin, Ontario, Canada
18/09/2020 00:07
6
0
truly impressive find. Very meaningful for the bio-scientist community. A step toward mapping even more precisely the living scenario of some of our ancestors and the fauna that disappeared with them.
Ivan de La Guardia, Panama
17/09/2020 21:22
5
0
Congratulations for this impressive discovery, and hoping you keep us posted with the results of your investigations.
Luis Iñarra, Mexico City, Mexico
16/09/2020 09:16
5
0
@Andy Baker - the closest human preserved similarly would be this fellow, but he's only perhaps 5,500 years old: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%96tzi
Kristofer Eskar, River Styx, Ohio
16/09/2020 02:52
0
1
Why is the cave bear being touched in one photo directly with a human hand without the protection of gloves? Does not that run the risk of affecting the find, or introducing bacterium, viral loads, or potentially pests that might degrade the scientific importance?
Kristofer Ezkar, Rivery Styx, Ohio
16/09/2020 02:48
23
3
Congratulations to the discoverer and I am looking forward to hear from youir scientific progress!
Frank , Hamburg, Germany
15/09/2020 18:38
5
0
CONGRATULATION

Please check this photo with example.Is it bear with huff.
Sorry i don't see paw.
Marin Maric, Bosnia
15/09/2020 03:37
3
7
A remarkable discovery and great opportunity to advance our knowledge. Congratulations.
William J. Ruotolo , No. Scituate, RI, USA
15/09/2020 03:14
8
0
It is a real sensation and thanks to the heroic discoverer
Maroš Štefák, Slovak Republic
14/09/2020 20:35
6
1
Congratulations on being at the forefront of this precedent-setting discovery. Please ignore the self-centred demands from the peanut gallery and just do what you know you have to do! I look forward to the public presentation of your findings and do not say anything more to anyone who is not part of your carefully-selected team. Good luck and enjoy the excitement!
Michael Lodge, Hectorspruit, Mpumalanga, South Africa
14/09/2020 01:28
13
1
Four of the six people standing behind the foal in the final picture look like Creek Indians from Okmulgee county, Oklahoma in 2020. They would not stand out in Walmart as foreigners from a different continent.
Keny Charles , Tulsa Oklahoma
14/09/2020 01:06
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20
12

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