Korean Scientists are Cloning an Extinct Siberian Lion

March 11, 2016

As first reported on by the Siberian Times, two completely preserved lion cubs dating back to Pleistocene times were found frozen in ice. Now, in an effort to learn more about the ancient animal, a team of scientists at the forefront of biology are working on cloning the cats. The team is currently trying to locate useable DNA to reanimate the frozen Ice Age lion, but this task is harder than it sounds. Both Russian and Korean scientists are working together on the groundbreaking project through the Joint Foundation of Molecular Paleontology at North East Russia University in the city of Yakutsk. Some of the same researchers are also trying to clone a well preserved mammoth found a little while earlier.

extinct siberian lion cloning [Image Source: Vera Salnitskaya/The Siberian Times]

As you can see above, the remains of the animal are incredibly well preserved, with even the whiskers still attached. Specimens with the degree of preservation and quality seen in the two Siberian lion cubs have never been examined before now. However, finding a useable sample in such a small animal is hard, and the two teams of scientists have even started a dispute of what sample size is good enough.

SEE ALSO: China is Building the World’s Largest Cloning Factory

inside_pointing extinct lion cloning  [Image Source: Vera Salnitskaya/The Siberian Times]

Cloning has long been at the forefront of controversy, and this endeavor has many fearing that the age of Jurassic Park will be upon us very soon. There is still a long road ahead of the teams as they work, what may be an impossible challenge, trying to clone an animal that last lived over 10,000 years ago. Aside from simply having a clone of a prehistoric animal, the research could also lead to a more in depth knowledge of what caused the large cat to become extinct. The animal had very little natural predators, and mostly dwelled in the safety of caves. At the current stage of knowledge, it is believed that a decrease in cave deer and other prey caused the animals as a whole to become extinct.

One lion cub is being taken apart in search for a useable specimen while the other will be kept as part of the Mammoth Museum’s specimen collection. Contributing to their death were the cold conditions in the surrounding environment. Based upon how they were preserved, it is believed that an avalanche would have quickly covered the pair, blocking their airways, and allowing for very little decomposition.

extinct siberian lion frozen cloning [Image Source: Vera Salnitskaya/The Siberian Times]

It’s probably not time to start fearing for your life from rogue extinct Siberian lion clones, but the time of a prehistoric zoo may be upon us very soon. Technology needed to clone these animals may not be around yet, but the specimens will be well preserved so that as cloning technology advances, the sample will be available for further testing.

SEE ALSO: UK scientists granted permission to genetically modify human embryos