The cave lion was one of the most common large predators during the last ice age, with a distribution throughout northern Eurasia and North America. Now the researchers have analyzed parts of the genome of 31 different cave lions and compared it with the genome of modern lions.

- The results show two interesting aspects of the cave lion's history. The results indicate that the family trees of the cave lions and the modern lions were divided just over 1.8 million years ago, which is twice as far back in time as, for example, humans and Neanderthals, says Love Dalén, professor at the Swedish Museum of Natural History and one of the researchers behind the study published in Scientific Reports.

Eastern and western subspecies

According to the researchers, the cave lions were also divided into an eastern and western subspecies. One subspecies was found in what is called Beringia, which was a land mass that stretched roughly from the Lena River in Siberia to Alaska and northwestern Canada. The second subspecies was widespread in western Siberia and Europe.

So far, "Spartak" has only been in the lab, but there have been discussions that the cave lion can be an exhibition at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in the future.

- For 28,000 years, "Spartak" has been frozen in the Siberian permafrost, says Love Dalén, professor of the Swedish Museum of Natural History. Photo: Swedish Museum of Natural History