CLOSE
Original image
Academy of Sciences of Yakutia / The Siberian Times

10,000-Year-Old Frozen Cave Lion Cubs Found in Siberia

Original image
Academy of Sciences of Yakutia / The Siberian Times

For the first time ever, paleontologists in Yakutia, a region in the extreme northeast of Asia, have found the bodies of two fully intact cave lions (Panthera leo spelaeabelieved to be over 10,000 years old. According to The Siberian Times and the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia, the cubs were discovered over the summer, preserved by the permafrost of the Sahka Republic—one of the coldest places on the planet, with average summer temperatures around 58°F and winter freezes of -50°F.

Scientists believe that cave lions went extinct around the time that the cubs died, so studying the remains of the ancient babies could tell them more about why the predatory species disappeared. "One theory is a decline in deer and cave bears, their prey, caused their demise," The Siberian Times reports. Previously, only partial skeletons, bones, and teeth of Panthera leo spelaea had been found, which makes this discovery of two complete specimens especially exciting.

Further information about the find will be shared at a media presentation in November, when other ancient creatures found preserved in the region over the years will also be on display. The only other information that the scientists have been able to confirm is that the prehistoric cats' remains were free of dangerous microorganisms such as anthrax—ruling out at least one possible cause of death.

Click on over to The Siberian Times' site to see the incredible photos

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Why Do Cats Freak Out After Pooping?
Original image
iStock

Cats often exhibit some very peculiar behavior, from getting into deadly combat situations with their own tail to pouncing on unsuspecting humans. Among their most curious habits: running from their litter box like a greyhound after moving their bowels. Are they running from their own fecal matter? Has waste elimination prompted a sense of euphoria?

Experts—if anyone is said to qualify as an expert in post-poop moods—aren’t exactly sure, but they’ve presented a number of entertaining theories. From a biological standpoint, some animal behaviorists suspect that a cat bolting after a deposit might stem from fears that a predator could track them based on the smell of their waste. But researchers are quick to note that they haven’t observed cats run from their BMs in the wild.

Biology also has a little bit to do with another theory, which postulates that cats used to getting their rear ends licked by their mother after defecating as kittens are showing off their independence by sprinting away, their butts having taken on self-cleaning properties in adulthood.

Not convinced? You might find another idea more plausible: Both humans and cats have a vagus nerve running from their brain stem. In both species, the nerve can be stimulated by defecation, leading to a pleasurable sensation and what some have labeled “poo-phoria,” or post-poop elation. In running, the cat may simply be working off excess energy brought on by stimulation of the nerve.

Less interesting is the notion that notoriously hygienic cats may simply want to shake off excess litter or fecal matter by running a 100-meter dash, or that a digestive problem has led to some discomfort they’re attempting to flee from. The fact is, so little research has been done in the field of pooping cat mania that there’s no universally accepted answer. Like so much of what makes cats tick, a definitive motivation will have to remain a mystery.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Original image
RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/GettyImages
arrow
Animals
Listen to the Impossibly Adorable Sounds of a Baby Sloth
Original image
RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/GettyImages

Sometimes baby sloths seem almost too adorable to be real. But the little muppet-faced treasures don't just look cute—turns out they sound cute, too. We know what you're thinking: How could you have gone your whole life without knowing what these precious creatures sound like? Well, fear not: Just in time for International Sloth Day (today), we have some footage of how the tiny mammals express themselves—and it's a lot of squeaking. (Or maybe that's you squealing?)

The sloths featured in the heart-obliterating video below come from the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica. The institution rescues orphaned sloths, rehabilitates them, and gets them ready to be released back into the wild.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios