The astonishing find was made by reindeer herders on the Lyakhovsky Islands, which are part of the New Siberian islands archipelago in Russia’s Far North.
The discovery is of “world importance,” a leading Russian expert on extinct Ice Age species said.
“Previously, only skulls and bones were found. This find is of great importance for the whole world.”
The adult animal was found by a group of reindeer herders, who then transferred the right to research the specimen to the NEFU, which is at the forefront of research into extinct woolly mammoths and rhinos.
According to the team, the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) is a prehistoric species or sub-species that lived in Eurasia in the Middle and Late Pleistocene period and became extinct some 15,000 years ago. Preliminary analysis suggests the bear is between 22,000 and 39,500 years old.
Maxim Cheprasov, senior researcher from the Mammoth Museum laboratory in Yakutsk, said in the statement: “It is necessary to carry out radiocarbon analysis to determine the precise age of the bear.”
Scientists have not yet been able to visit the site of the discovery — the ancient carcass was found a long way from Yakutsk, which itself is more than 5,000 miles from Moscow.
Significant discoveries, including mammoths, woolly rhinos, Ice Age foal, several puppies and cave lion cubs, have been made in Siberia in recent years as the permafrost melts.