Cave Lion (Пещерный Лев)

Coming Soon to Hessink's

* Complete skeleton of a very rare cave lion (‘Panthera Spelaea’)

Cave Lion (Пещерный Лев)

‘Panthera Spelaea’

Estimate: 300.000 / 350.000 euro


This very rare and complete skeleton of a cave lion (‘Panthera Spelaea’) was found in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), a far eastern Federal District of Russian, along the Arctic Ocean. The impressive skeleton of this cave lion is fully mounted on a custom metal framework, ready for display.

Only a handful of complete cave lion skeletons exist. Remains of the extinct cave lion, native to the northern mammoth steppes of Eurasia, were predominantly found in open habitats and grasslands although it would have also have occurred in the mountains and open woodlands as well.

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* Reconstruction of a cave lion (‘Panthera Spelaea’) in his natural habitat

The cave lion, together with that other predator, the sabre-toothed cat (‘Smilodon’), stood at the top of the food chaine during the ice age. The oldest known fossils of the cave lion were excavated in north-eastern Yakutia and were radiocarbon dated at 62,400 years old. In Yakutia's Khayrgas Cave, bones of the cave lion were found together with remains of humans, wolf, reindeer, Pleistocene horse and fish in a layer dated 13,200–21,500 years old. In Eurasia, it became extinct between 14,900 and 14,100 years ago, and survived in Beringia until 13,800 to 13,300 years ago as the Weichselian glaciation receded. In Slovakia, skull, femur and pelvis remains were excavated in ten Karst caves in hilly and montane areas at elevations from 240 to 1,133 m (787 to 3,717 ft).

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* Sabre-tooth of the cave lion

Cave lions were larger than the African lion and lacking a mane. In 2008, a well-preserved mature cave lion specimen was unearthed near the Maly Anyuy River in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug in Russia, which still retained some clumps of hair. Comparison with hair of a modern lion revealed that cave lion hair was probably similar in colour as that of the modern lion, though slightly lighter. In addition, the cave lion is thought to have had a very thick and dense undercoat comprising closed and compressed yellowish-to-white wavy downy hair with a smaller mass of darker-coloured guard hairs, possibly an adaptation to the Ice Age climate.

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* Reconstruction of cave lion fur

Some seven years ago, in 2015, two frozen cave lion cubs were discovered in the permafrost of Siberia, close to the Uyandina River in Yakutia. These cave lion cubs were estimated to be between 25,000 and 55,000 years old. The cubs were only a week old at the time of their deaths, as their milk teeth had not fully erupted. They were probably trapped and killed by a landslide.

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* One of the cave lion cubs, found in Yakutia.

The absence of oxygen underground hindered their decomposition and allowed the cubs to be preserved in such good condition and albeit with a few damages, they were the best preserved animals discovered from the Ice age.

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* Another cave lion cub, found in Yakutia.

The Chauvet Cave in southern France is famous for having the world’s oldest cave paintings. Radiocarbon dates showed that Chauvet Cave had been had been occupied twice. Humans used the cave from 37,000 to 33,500 years ago and again from 31,000 to 28,000 years ago. The panel in the Chauvet Cave was made with charcoal and a type of red pigment and shows a pride of cave lions hunting bison.

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* Cave lions depicted in the Chauvet cave of France
* The skull of our very rare massive cave lion skeleton ‘Panthera Spelaea’
* Front view of our very rare massive cave lion skeleton ‘Panthera Spelaea’