[playht_player width=”100%” height=”90px” voice=”Michael (en-US)”]Researchers recently found the best-preserved Ice Age animal: a Siberian cave lion cub from 28,000 years ago.

While his body is pretty much intact, the cub’s golden fur is covered in mud. His teeth, skin, soft tissues, and organs are perfectly mummified. Also, his claws are still sharp enough to pinch and scratch, making it one of the most impressive specimens ever found in permafrost.

This Siberian cub -deemed Sparta- was one of the two cave lion cub babies found between 2017 and 2018 in Russia. At first, researchers thought that the puppies were brothers but a new study proved that Boris -the other cub- is actually 15,000 years older.

“Sparta is probably the best-preserved Ice Age animal ever found, and is more or less undamaged apart from the fur being a bit ruffled,” Love Dalen, professor in Evolutionary Genetics and author of a new study on the cubs, told the media.

Cave Lion Cub Is The Best-Preserved Ice Age Animal Ever Found

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According to the study, both puppies were just 1 or 2 months when they died. The conditions of their death are still unclear but there are no signs of predators. However, they had distortions on their skeletons as well as dislocations on their skulls and ribs, likely due to freezing.

Back in the Ice Age, Siberia was far from the empty land we see nowadays. Mammoths, wolves, bears, elks, and countless animals roamed next to cave lions. Those cave lions are a slightly bigger version of the African lions we see nowadays.

Their fur isn’t significantly thicker than the one we see in African lions. That’s why it’s still unclear how they managed to adapt to life in Siberia, its rapid-changing environment, and cold weather.

That’s why this little guy will shed light on animal evolution, the lions’ ability to adapt, and maybe help unravel more mysteries from the Ice Age.