Cave lion figurine in situ at the Denisova Cave in the Altai mountains.
Picture: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography
The sensational discovery was made three months ago in the Altai Mountains by the team of archeologists from Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography.
The precious small - 42mm long, 8mm thick and 11mm high - figurine of a cave lion (Panthera spelaea, lat) was made by an Upper Palaeolithic artist between 40,000 and 45,000 years ago.
It was found inside the 11th layer of the southern gallery of the Denisova Cave.
This is the oldest sculptural zoomorphic image ever found in Siberia and throughout the territory of Northern and Central Asia.
The precise age is yet to be confirmed, but the cautious dating given by Siberian archeologists means that this might be the oldest animal figurine in the world.
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