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'If you emptied Lake Baikal, it would take every river in the world flowing into it a year to fill.'
Mike Carter, The Observer, 2009

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 (29)

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
15
2
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
12
21
Great article and work, it's fascinating stuff...good luck for future endeavours!

@Andy Baker; I believe that your wishes have been exorcised! DNA of the bones of a Kostenki man found in Western Russia 37.000 years ago during the Pleisocene Epoch; were similar to that of a 24,000 year old boy found in central Siberia. However if and why a full homo sapien body, like this cave bear (ie. without being mummified like the ancient Egyptians) as opposed to only skulls and bones will ever be found? is a new challenge for modern day science...
,
14/09/2020 01:05
7
3
This is wonderful. To see how this great bear looked is a marvel.
Annette Lemone, United States
13/09/2020 22:14
3
1
Yes, the last photos is misleading. It appears to be a different study. Although Great Job and I can't wait to hear the official age! Let me know ....
Norm Faltinson, Melba, Idaho
13/09/2020 19:53
5
8
This is so deeply fascinating to me. We have found all manner of ice age fauna, mammoth, rhino, bison and horse, cave lions, birds and so much more. So, will we ever find a human? Could you imagine? A paleo hunter gatherer? Now that would be exciting. Congratulations on your fabulous find and good luck for the future.
Andy Baker, New forest. England
13/09/2020 17:21
32
3
A really good job, congratulations.
Marco, Abbiategrasso, Italy
13/09/2020 14:48
10
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The last picture shows previously found mummy of Lena horse. It also shows research team that works with bear.
Mark, Israel
13/09/2020 14:07
16
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John, 13/09/2020 -- the one with the hooves is the foal mentioned in the article. The pictures earlier in the article are clearly the cave bear, and a bear cub.
Fascinating stuff, have fun studying them!
Barb, San Diego, California, USA
13/09/2020 12:27
18
1
John, the last image is misleading. Neither bears nor wild boars have hoofs.
Alan, Colorado
13/09/2020 12:03
10
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Absolutely fantastic! Best wishes for your studies with the bear!
Scott Strasser, Erie, PA USA
13/09/2020 08:21
7
3
good work.
haider , Pakistan
13/09/2020 04:55
9
1
very intresting-- but the pictures would appear to show the animal has hoofs not claws and it looks pretty "nosy" like a pig
john, United States
13/09/2020 00:32
9
15
Absolutely amazing. Well done on your efforts.
Ravinder Singh Chumber , England
12/09/2020 18:26
29
2
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