Frozen cave lion cubs discovery in Siberia

This video says about itself:

Extinct cave lions, almost perfectly preserved, discovered in Siberia

27 October 2015

The bodies of two extinct cave lion cubs from at least 10,000 years ago have been recovered in Russia’s Sakha Republic, almost perfectly preserved in permafrost, The Siberian Times reports.

From the Siberian Times in Russia:

WORLD EXCLUSIVE – Meet this extinct cave lion, at least 10,000 years old

By Anastasia Koryakina

26 October 2015

‘Sensational’ find of two cubs, the best preserved ever seen in the world, announced today.

The unprecedented discovery of the ancient predator was made this summer in the Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia. The cave lions were almost perfectly preserved in permafrost and could be much older.

The Siberian Times is proud to be working with the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia which will introduce the cubs properly at a presentation to the Russian and international media in late November.

Along with the two lions, paleontologists will also show other Pleistocene animals preserved by ice in this vast region, the largest and coldest in the Russian Federation. Among these will be the famous woolly mammoth Yuka, the ‘Oimyakon‘ mammoth, the carcass of a Kolyma woolly rhinoceros, and Yukagir bison and horses.

The cave lions – Panthera spelaea (Goldfuss) – lived during Middle and Late Pleistocene times on the Eurasian continent, from the British Isles to Chukotka in the extreme east of Russia, and they also roamed Alaska and northwestern Canada. The extinct creatures were close relatives of modern Afro-Asiatic lions.

Finds of their remains are rare: today’s announcement about the existence of the pair is coupled with the confident claim that they are the best preserved ever unearthed in the world.

Full details will be given at the presentation in November, including the first results of research into the lions.

Previously, only fragments of carcasses, parts of skeletons and individual bones had been found. Until now, in Yakutia, only skulls, some teeth and bones were unearthed which has prevented scientists having more than an approximate image of the extinct creature.

Like other ancient animals, the cave lion became extinct: research on the two cubs could help to explain why they died out around 10,000 years ago, since the animal had few predators, was smaller than herbivores, and was not prone to getting bogged down in swamps, as did woolly mammoths and rhinos. One theory is a decline in deer and cave bears, their prey, caused their demise.

‘The find is sensational, no doubt,’ said a source close to the discovery. It is known the remains are free of dangerous infections such as anthrax following initial microbiological analysis, but no other significant details or pictures will be released before the presentation.

See also here.

Good Siberian tiger news

This video says about itself:

Siberian tigress Ilona captured on camera a year after release – Part II

28 May 2015

Raw footage taken by a camera trap inside Khingan Nature Reserve in Far East Russia that shows Ilona the Siberian tigress marking her territory. Ilona is one of five orphan tigers that IFAW helped rehabilitate and release back to the wild in May of 2014. A drop-off satellite collar fitted on Ilona provides scientists with critical data to better protect the species. There are less than 400 wild Siberian (aka Amur) tigers left in the wild. To find out more, visit:

From Wildlife Extra:

12 month’s after release ‘Putin’s tigers’ are reported as thriving

One year after five orphaned Siberian tigers were released in the Russian Far East the signs are four out of the five are doing well and have adapted successfully to life in the wild.

Thanks to four camera traps IFAW had donated to the Khingan Nature Reserve, there is now footage of Ilona the tigress looking healthy and marking her territory.

Satellite tracking and camera trap videos show that the rehabilitated orphan tigress continues to thrive in the Russian forests near the Chinese border. By tracking her movements, scientists have learned that she is hunting wolves, deer and wild boar.

“Success stories like Ilona are helping to change the opinion and policy of officials in the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources,” said Maria Vorontsova, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Russia director. “There was a general belief that it was impossible to rehabilitate and return orphan tiger cubs back to the wild. IFAW and our partner groups have now proven that it is indeed possible.”

Nicknamed “Putin’s tigers” after President Vladimir Putin’s participation in the release, all but one of the five tigers have successfully adapted to life in the wild. Kuzya, Ilona, Borya and Svetlaya have been tracked and are establishing territories of their own. Ustin was caught after months of wandering near human settlements along the Chinese-Russian border and was ultimately taken to the Rostov-on-Don zoo due to public safety concerns.

The tigress Zolushka (which means Cinderella in Russian) was released in 2013 and was the first to be successfully rehabilitated and reintroduced to the wild. Scientists report that she is doing well and continues to thrive in the Bastak Nature Reserve. It is believed that she found a mate, Zavetny, and may already have given birth to cubs. If the young survive, they will increase the remaining population of approximately 400 wild Amur tigers.

Snow leopard discovery in Siberia

This video is called Silent Roar: Searching for the Snow Leopard (HD Nature Documentary).

From Wildlife Extra:

Photo proof of snow leopards in newly created refuge in Siberia

Camera trap images have been taken of snow leopards in the newly created National Park of Sylyugem National Park in the Altai mountains of Siberia.

Aleksei Kuzhlekov, a national park researcher, reports that, “four pictures of snow leopard were taken at different times, probably of three or four individuals”.

The Saylyugem National Park was created five years ago to protect wildlife in that region of Siberia, especially the snow leopard and argali mountain sheep, in an area totaling 118,380 hectares.

The creation of the reserve was much needed, because poachers had killed more than 10 snow leopards in the area in the 1990s alone, to sell their pelts and body parts on the black market for Chinese medicine.

The snow leopard is in the endangered category on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with as few as 4,000 left in the world, of which only 2,500 are likely to be breeding.

The head of the local conservation department, Igor Ivanitsky, adds: “We were able to place the cameras in the right place by painstakingly working out the movements routes of the cats.

“Being then so successful with our camera trapping efforts tells us that the park is their main home and hunting ground.

“Park staff have also found snow leopard tracks and scats (droppings) in several places around the national park, giving further evidence that the big cats are thriving in their newly created refuge.”

Dr. Matthias Hammer, Executive Director of Biosphere Expeditions, which assisted in the creation of the new National Park says he is delighted with the news.

“We spent ten years working in the Altai, researching snow leopard presence, building local capacity and trying to create economic incentives for local people to keep their snow leopard neighbours alive.

“When we started, there was no national park, little awareness, research or infrastructure, and rampant poaching.

“Now we have a national park, national park staff, anti-poaching patrols, several research initiatives, much more awareness and many ways for local people to benefit from the presence of the snow leopard.

“Poaching continues to be a threat, as is the Altai gas pipeline, but all in all this is a remarkable turnaround and success story, and we are very proud to have played our part in this.

“We’ve had many successes through citizen science voluntourism over the years and this is yet another excellent illustration of how citizen science-led conservation expeditions can make a genuine difference.”

For more information visit Sailugemsky National Park and Biosphere Expeditions.

Whooper Swans tracked from Germany to Siberia and back

Originally posted on

IMG_4792 Axel SchonertTwo years ago we started a small project to study the fascinating migrations of the whooper swan, with the help of satellite transmitters. Nico Stenschke, the man behind the receiver, sent us a short note to report on progress this winter. And wow, look at these Whoopers!

View original 270 more words

Baby woolly rhino discovered, first time ever

This video says about itself:


FEBRUARY 25, 2015

Siberia: For the first time the remains of a baby woolly rhinoceros were discovered in the permafrost of Siberia.

The extinct woolly rhinoceros that has been called “Sasha” [is] at least 10,000 years old according to the experts and thanks to the ice he still has his hair and [people are] hoping to extract DNA.

The remains of the rhinoceros were found by a hunter beside a stream, in the largest and coldest region of Russia, the Republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutia, in September.

See also here. And here. And here.

Tapeworm discovery in prehistoric domestic dog

Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm

From the Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 50, October 2014, Pages 51–62:

Multicomponent analyses of a hydatid cyst from an Early Neolithic hunter–fisher–gatherer from Lake Baikal, Siberia


Echinococcus granulosus infection in an 8000-year-old forager from Siberia.

Differential diagnosis of egg-like, multi-chambered ovoid calcifications.

Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes of a parasitic hydatid cyst.


Calcified biological objects are occasionally found at archaeological sites and can be challenging to identify. This paper undertakes the differential diagnosis of what we suggest is an Echinococcus granulosus hydatid cyst from an 8000-year-old mortuary site called Shamanka II in the Lake Baikal region of Siberia. Echinococcus is a parasitic tapeworm that needs two hosts to complete its life cycle: herbivores and humans are intermediate hosts, and carnivores such as dogs, wolves, and foxes are definitive hosts.

In the intermediate host the Echinococcus egg hatches in the digestive system, penetrates the intestine, and is carried via the bloodstream to an organ, where it settles and turns into an ovoid calcified structure called a hydatid cyst. For this object, identification was based on macroscopic, radiographic, and stable isotope analysis. High-resolution computed tomography scanning was used to visualize the interior structure of the object, which is morphologically consistent with the E. granulosus species (called cystic Echinococcus).

Stable isotope analysis of the extracted mineral and protein components of the object narrowed down the range of species from which it could come. The stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios of the object’s protein, and stable carbon isotope ratio of the mineral, closely match those of the likely human host. Additionally, the δ13C protein-to-mineral spacing is very low, which fits expectations for a parasitic organism. To our knowledge this is the first isotopic characterization of a hydatid cyst and this method may be useful for future studies. The hydatid cyst most likely came from a probable female adult. Two additional hydatid cysts were found in a young adult female from a contemporaneous mortuary site in the same region, Lokomotiv. This manuscript ends with a brief discussion [of] the importance of domesticated dogs in the disease’s occurrence and the health implication of echinococcal infection for these Early Neolithic hunter–fisher–gatherers.

Hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper breeding in the wild

This video says about itself:

Spoon-billed Sandpiper: Courtship

Within days of arriving on the breeding grounds, Spoon-billed Sandpiper courtship begins. Males perform display flights over favored areas to attract females and establish territories and females select a mate. Once together, a pair becomes inseparable. They forage within earshot of each other, copulate frequently, and prospect for potential locations to nest. This video, shot during the first few days of a pair’s seasonal courtship, captures some of these rarely witnessed behaviors including an attempted copulation and a nest scrape display.

Video includes commentary by The Cornell Lab [of Ornithology]’s Gerrit Vyn.

Filmed June 6, 2011 near Meinypilgyno, Chukotka, Russia.

From Wildlife Extra:

Hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper returns home to breed

An extensive hand-rearing programme, aimed at saving the highly endangered spoon-billed sandpiper, is celebrating the news that for the first time one has returned to its Russian ancestral grounds to breed, two years after she was released.

This is a major milestone for the programme, which is a collaboration between WWT, Birds Russia, Moscow Zoo and the RSPB working with colleagues from the BTO, BirdLife International, ArcCona and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force.

It aims to give the chicks a head start to ensure they survive their crucial first days of life, and stabilise the species’ population, which is estimated at 100 breeding pairs in the wild.

The team carefully removed eggs from breeding grounds on the tundra of the Chukotka region in eastern Russia to be monitored, hatched and nourished in the nearby village of Meinypil’gyno before being released.

Rearing and releasing birds on the breeding grounds increases the number of young birds in the wild in autumn by about 25 per cent.

But this is only the start as, once released, the birds embark on a 5,000 miles migration to South Asia, facing exhaustion, starvation, illegal hunting and getting caught in fishing nets in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Pavel Tomkovich of Birds Russia said: “Two years ago I attached a tiny plastic leg flag to this bird, so that we’d recognise it if it was ever seen again.

“The odds were severely stacked against that happening, but amazingly she was spotted, first by birdwatchers in Taiwan in April and now we see her here at her birthplace ready to have young of her own.”

Norbert Schäffer, the RSPB’s head of international species recovery, said: “It’s great to see parts of the plan to protect this precious species coming together, but it’s a long road and there is still a lot more to do in terms of tackling the problems on the flyway.

“This is a huge international effort involving many different partners and with everyone doing their bit.”