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Ancient DNA From Preserved Cave Lions Reveals They Were a Unique Species

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A genetic analysis of ice age cave lions shows this species to be distinct from modern lions, ending a long-standing mystery. What’s more, the new evidence suggests these fearsome creatures diverged into two distinct lineages.

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During the Pleistocene, lions lived across much of the Northern Hemisphere, including in Siberia. The northernmost of these beasts, dubbed “cave lions,” lived far outside the conventional geographic range of lions today. Paleontologists have questioned the origin of cave lions for years, wondering if they were modern lions that ventured way up north or if they represented an entirely different species.

A new paper in Scientific Reports appears to have settled this debate. By analyzing and comparing dozens of gene sequences and sketching an evolutionary family tree of these ancient felines, scientists from the Centre for Palaeogenetics at Stockholm University have shown that lions and cave lions were distinct species. What’s more, the cave lions branched off into two subtly different lineages, having split into a group that lived in Siberia and a group that lived further west in Europe, according to the new research, co-authored by evolutionary geneticist Love Dalén.

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In total, the researchers analyzed 31 mitochondrial genome sequences, including DNA taken from an exquisitely preserved cave lion cub found two years ago in Siberia. The cub, dated to 28,000 years old, is one of the best-preserved animals ever found from the last ice age.

“We sequenced DNA from cave lion bones, teeth, and in one case a piece of skin from an exceptionally well-preserved cave lion carcass, from across their historic range,” David Stanton, the first author of the new paper and a former Marie-Curie Fellow at the Centre for Palaeogenetics, said in an email. “By measuring differences in the DNA, our best estimate for when cave lions and modern lions separated was 1.85 million years ago—much older than the split between any populations of lions that are around today.”

The dataset included several samples older than 100,000 years old, which revealed the split between the western and eastern cave lions. This result meshes well with previous work showing that cave lions, like modern lions, had different physical features depending on where they lived.

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Cave lions “looked similar to modern lions, however they are thought to be slightly bigger,” said Stanton. Fascinatingly, Pleistocene humans, who lived alongside cave lions during the last ice age, painted these lions on cave walls. Based on these renderings, it appears that cave lions were very similar to modern lions, but they lacked manes, he explained.

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“These animals would have lived in a landscape that was cool and dry and dominated by open grassland—much of which disappeared after the last Ice Age,” said Stanton. “They lived alongside animals such as bison and horses, as well as other animals that went extinct at a similar time to cave lions, such as woolly rhinos and woolly mammoths.”

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The two cave lion lineages that lived in Pleistocene Eurasia likely feasted on different prey, with the eastern versions preying on bison and horses and the western versions on reindeer, according to the study.

The reason for their extinction isn’t fully understood, but like so many other animals, they disappeared at the end of the last ice age. Loss of habitat and possibly humans overhunting large prey animals were likely contributors to their demise.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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