Should We Clone a 50,000-Year-Old Cave Lion Cub?

An immaculately preserved cave lion cub dating back to the Pleistocene Ice Age was recently uncovered in Russia.

Although not the first prehistoric lion cub found preserved in Siberian permafrost, with this new addition, scientists raise the question of bringing the extinct species back to life through cloning.

Uyan and Dina were found about two years ago in similarly frozen and unbelievably intact states. These cubs were dated at around 12,000 years old and approximately two to three weeks of age at the time of their death. This latest cub is yet unnamed and is estimated to have been about a year old at the time of its death, although further analysis of its teeth is needed for confirmation.

The remains were found in the bank of the Tirekhtykh River by a local resident of the Abyisky district. The cub measures about 18 inches in length and weighs nearly 9 pounds.

The exquisite preservation of the specimen raises the question of possible species resurrection. This level of preservation ensures the possibility, but poses the question of whether or not it’s morally right. Some would argue that we need to focus on conserving the species currently living while others argue it would be a fantastic leap for science to bring the extinct cave lion species back to life.

The cub has been given to the country’s Republic Academy of Sciences to be examined by the same scientist who handled Uyan and Dina. Analysis will be performed to determine the cub’s precise age, sex, and cause of death.