The first-ever perfectly preserved grown cave bear carcass has been discovered in the Lyakhovsky Islands near Russia, scientists have announced. Though remains of this extinct prehistoric bear have been found numerous times in the past, those discoveries have been limited to bones. This time around, however, a full carcass has been found, one that includes all of its organs and more.
The Lyakhovsky Islands are part of the New Siberian Islands in the Arctic sea. A number of notable prehistoric discoveries have happened on these landmasses, including the relatively recent discovery of a woolly mammoth carcass. This time around, the prehistoric bear carcass was found by reindeer herders, according to the North-Eastern Federal University of Yakutsk.
One of the scientists who investigated the discovery, Lena Grigorieva, said the carcass is of a full bear and that it contains all of its soft tissues, including its nose and all of its internal organs — and that those organs are even in the right places. That makes this a one-of-a-kind finding relevant to the global science community, providing an unprecedented look at these prehistoric bears.
Scientists at the university will be in charge of analyzing the remains; the institution has already spent considerable amounts of time researching woolly mammoths and extinct rhinos. Colleagues from mainland Russia and other countries will also be invited to join in on the study.
At this point in time, the researchers have determined that the cave bear is between 22,000 and 39,500 years old; that’s quite a bit older than the last of the cave bears, which went extinct around 15,000 years ago. Radiocarbon dating will be used to determine precisely how old the bear is, but such findings will take time.