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Ancient DNA from preserved cave lions shows that they were a unique species

Well-preserved remains of a 28,000-year-old cave lion cub that were found in Siberia two years ago.

Well-preserved remains of a 28,000 year old cave lion baby found two years ago in Siberia.
image:: Dear Dalén

A genetic analysis of Ice Age cave lions shows that this type is different from modern lions.standing secret. In addition, the new evidence points to these terrifying events Creatures separated into two different lines.

During the Pleistocene, lions lived in much of the northern hemisphere, including in Siberia. The northernmost of these animals, known as “cave lions”, lived far outside the conventional geographical area of Lions today. For years, paleontologists have questioned the origin of cave lions and wondered if They were modern lions that ventured far north or if they were completely different Species.

A new paper this seems to have been regulated in scientific reports Debate. By analyzing and comparing dozens of gene sequences and Scientists from the Center for Paleogenetics at Stockholm University have designed an evolutionary pedigree of these ancient cats and shown that lions and cave lions are different species. In addition, the cave lions branched into two subtly different lines after separating into a group that lived in Siberia and a group that lived further west in Europe, according to the new study co-authored by the evolutionary geneticist Love Dalén.

The researchers analyzed a total of 31 mitochondrial genome sequences, including DNA from an exquisitely preserved cave lion baby that was found in Siberia two years ago. The 28,000 year old cub is one of the best preserved animals ever found from the last ice age.

Remains of a 28,000-year-old cave lion baby.

Remains of a 28,000 year old baby cave lion.
image:: Dear Dalén

“We sequenced DNA from cave lion bones, teeth and, in one case, a piece of skin from an exceptionally well-preserved cave lion carcass from their entire historical range.” David Stanton, first author of the new paper and former Marie Curie Fellow at the Center for Palaeogenetics, said in an email. “By measuring the differences in DNA, our best estimate for separating cave lions from modern lions was 1.85 million years ago – much older than the division between lion populations that exist today.”

The data set contained several samples that were older than 100,000 years and showed the division between the western and eastern cave lions. This result fits well with previous work, which shows that cave lions, like modern lions, had different physical characteristics depending on where they lived.

A sample analyzed in the new study.

A sample analyzed in the new study.
image:: Dear Dalén

Cave lions “looked like modern lions, but are considered slightly larger,” said Stanton. Fascinatingly, Pleistocene people who lived next to cave lions during the last ice age painted these lions on cave walls. Based on these representations, it appears that cave lions were very similar to modern lions, but they lacked manes, he explained.

“These animals would have lived in a cool and dry landscape and dominated by open grasslands – much of which disappeared after the last ice age, ”said Stanton. “They lived alongside animals like bison and horses, as well as other animals that were extinct at the same time as cave lions like woolly rhinos and woolly mammoths. “

The two cave lion lines that lived in the Pleistocene Eurasia were likely to feed on different prey, with the eastern versions hunting bison and horses and the western versions on reindeer, the study found.

The reason for their extinction is not fully understood, but like so many other animals, they disappeared at the end of the last ice age. habitat loss and possibly people passing byHunt for large prey were probably contributors to her death.

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