This cave lion cub died 28,000 years ago. Nicknamed Sparta, the animal was preserved in permafrost and, according to scientists, "is probably the best preserved Ice Age animal ever found, and is more or less undamaged apart from the fur being a bit ruffled"
"She even had the whiskers preserved," says Centre for Palaeogenetics professor Love Dalen who co-led a new study on the cub that was found several years ago at Russia's Semyuelyakh River by a group seeking mammoth tusks to sell.
Another cub was found nearby that apparently died 43,000 years ago but it wasn't as well-preserved as Sparta.
"Given their preservation they must have been buried very quickly. So maybe they died in a mudslide, or fell into a crack in the permafrost," Dalen said. "Permafrost forms large cracks due to seasonal thawing and freezing[…]
The mummified remains of a number of extinct animals — a woolly rhino, a lark, a cave bear, a canine puppy — that once roamed the Russia steppe have been found in recent years, often by hunters, who blast tunnels using high-pressure water hoses into the permafrost primarily in search of long curvy mammoth tusks. There is a lucrative — if controversial — trade in the tusks, which are prized by ivory carvers and collectors as an alternative to elephant ivory[…]
The climate crisis has also played a role. Warmer summers — the Arctic is warming two times faster than the global average — have weakened the permafrost layer and lengthened the tusk-hunting season.