A group of reindeer herders found a perfectly-preserved cave bear from the Ice Age in a frozen tundra. This gives scientists the perfect opportunity to examine the animal because the specimen was so frozen that the organs — including the nose — was still intact.
They found the beast on Bolshoy Lyakhovsky island in the Siberian Republic of Sakha. Scientists are still waiting to get an exact age with radiocarbon dating, but some have estimated that the bear lived 39,000 years ago.
“Today this is the first and only find of its kind—a whole bear carcass with soft tissues. This find is of great importance for the whole world,” Lena Grigorieva, one of Russia’s top experts in Ice Age species, said.
The newly discovered bear is an exciting find for the scientists at the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) in Yakutsk, Russia because until now they’ve only ever been able to examine skulls and bones. Also, this ice age bear is a predecessor to the modern brown bear.
One of the scientists named Maxim Cheprasov from the Mammoth Museum laboratory in Yakutsk told a local newspaper called the Siberian Times, “a scientific program for its comprehensive study will be prepared.”
Detailing the study, Cheprasov said, “We will have to study the carcass of a bear using all modern scientific research methods—molecular genetic, cellular, microbiological and others.”
For a long time, scientists believed that the bear most likely died during hibernation because they did not have any natural predators. As recently as 15,000 years ago, human-caused extinction and climate change have caused many species of animals to disappear.