The cubs were found 15 metres apart but are not only from different litters but were also born thousands of years apart.

The two cubs aged 1-2 months were found by mammoth tusk collectors. Two other lion cubs named Uyan and Dina have also been found in the region in recent years.

Cave lions have been extinct for thousands of years.

Valery Plotnikov, one of the study's authors, told Reuters in the regional capital Yakutsk that Sparta was so well preserved that it still had its fur, internal organs and skeleton.

"The find itself is unique; there was no any other such find in Yakutia," he said.

"Maybe, we hope, some disintegrated parts of the mother's milk (remain intact). Because if we have that, we can understand what its mother's diet was," he said.

Similar finds in Russia's vast Siberian region have happened with increasing regularity.

Climate change is warming the Arctic at a faster pace than the rest of the world and has thawed the ground in some areas long locked in permafrost.

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