Scientists On The Verge Of Cloning Extinct Prehistoric Ice-Age Lion

Scientists are setting themselves up for a cloning experiment intended to resurrect the magnificent species of the prehistoric “Siberian Cave Lion” following a recent discovery of two mummified cubs in near-perfect condition around the Siberian permafrost. The effort has been undertaken by a highly-accomplished team of South Korean experts who had formerly endeavoured to bring back to life the ancient Woolly Mammoth.

Now, the same team intends to use DNA samples obtained from the excavated cubs to clone the long-lost prehistoric beast. Researchers also claim the two cubs could help explain why the species perished around 12,000 years ago. They collected samples from the mummified cubs left embedded beneath ice for centuries and dug from their site complete with virtually all their body parts intact.

A replica of the now-extinct Ice Cave Lion. Image: Getty
A replica of the now-extinct Ice Cave Lion. Image: Getty

Cloning expert Hwang Woo-suk traveled to Siberia to collect the samples from scientists based in Yakutsk in Russia. However, according to Hwang, there was a bit of a dispute between Siberian and Korean scientists over the size of the sample.

“The dispute arose from the fact that the researchers, as always, want to be completely sure and take more tissue, and I can understand them. But the lion is not fully preserved and there are not so many tissues. We have planned other studies, so it is important to preserve the original morphology of the remains. Such disputes are normal in all studies, and in the end we came to a compromise.”

According to a report, last year a contractor excavating mammoth tusks near the Uyandina river stumbled upon the cubs by accident after sifting through the ice. Researchers say they removed skin and muscle tissue from the prehistoric remnants of these animals, famously named Uyna and Dina, hoping to understand why the species vanished when they did. Reportedly, one of the cubs is now being kept frozen until more sophisticated techniques for further experimentation can be employed by scientists.

According to South Korean Scientist Albert Protopopov, the samples were extracted from the cubs in order to ascertain whether or not the possibility of cloning these animals should be entertained.

“We intend to keep it for the future. The methods of research are constantly being improved, about once a decade there is a mini-revolution in this area. So we will do everything possible to keep this carcass frozen for as long as possible.”

According to a previous Inquisitr report, the species went extinct despite a lack of competing predators inhabiting the region and their ability to navigate some of the more treacherous terrains that other animals of the time were confronted with.

The Eurasian Lion wandered across continents, undertook endless journeys, inhabiting parts of Britain all the way further into Siberia. This magnificent predator preferred the cold weather, employing caves for dens. They were incontestably top hunters of their time and preferred thick forest cover for hunting. As the ice age diminished, temperatures soared and humans emerged, the Siberian cave lion perished along with its prey. Cave lions are believed to have been considerably larger and more powerful than the African lions of today.

Ancient Cave Lion Paintings: Image via Shutterstock
Ancient Cave Lion Painting: Image via Shutterstock

According to available statistics, the average male cave lion weighed nearly 600 pounds, sometimes reaching lengths of up to eight feet and standing over four-feet tall at the shoulder.

Elsewhere, scientists from Russia and Japan are still persisting with experiments aiming to resurrect the ancient woolly mammoth from the fetters of extinction. A few year ago these scientists had claimed that an excavated thigh bone contained remarkably intact “marrow cells,” which could help establish the precise timing of the experiment. The team further asserted that the Mammoth cloning experiment could be completed within a five-year span.

[Image via Getty Images]