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Ancient bear found preserved in permafrost reveals its secrets

By T.K. Randall
March 17, 2023 · Comment icon 7 comments

Researchers examine the bear's remains. Image Credit: North-Eastern Federal University
Scientists have been studying an incredibly well-preserved bear that was found in the Siberian permafrost.
Still sporting soft tissues, internal organs and a coat of brown hair, this ancient animal - which was discovered on the Lyakhovsky Islands back in 2020 - is a fascinating find indeed.

When it was first unearthed, scientists believed that it was a species of prehistoric bear known as Ursus spelaeus which went extinct around 24,000 years ago, but now a renewed investigation by researchers at Russia's North-Eastern Federal University has revealed that this bear frozen in time is in fact a modern brown bear and likely dates back a mere 3,000 years.

Even so, its remarkable level of preservation is practically unheard of, providing scientists with a unique opportunity to study the remains a specimen that roamed the Earth several millennia ago.
"This find is absolutely unique: the complete carcass of an ancient brown bear," biologist Maxim Cheprasov told Reuters. "For the first time, a carcass with soft tissues has fallen into the hands of scientists, giving us the opportunity to study the internal organs and examine the brain."

One enduring mystery about the find is how the bear had even managed to get to the island on which it was found given that it is separated from the mainland by some 31 miles of open water.

It is possible that it swam across, or perhaps crossed when the water was frozen during the winter.

You can check out a video of the discovery below.

Source: Science Alert | Comments (7)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by DieChecker 1 year ago
So the real mystery is why the brown bear was there to begin with. Probably could have floated on a log. Or if the sea froze over, it could have just walked there. Island looks far enough north that I suspect the ocean could have frozen to allow the bear to get to the island.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Piney 1 year ago
Frozen ocean. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Still Waters 1 year ago
Comment icon #4 Posted by Myles 1 year ago
Not much of a story, I guess.  
Comment icon #5 Posted by Cho Jinn 1 year ago
But where’s the evidence?
Comment icon #6 Posted by LadyPhoenix 1 year ago
Due to what evidence did they decide it is more "modern"?  Seems as though it likely isn't, given the location.  A quick search states that, while it is untested, bears can sometimes swim 9-10 miles.  31 seems a bit far. 
Comment icon #7 Posted by Poncho_Peanatus 8 months ago
maybe in ancient times there exposed land that later submerged?

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