A 40,000-year-old severed wolf’s head, preserved by permafrost complete with teeth and fur, has been discovered in eastern Siberia.
The head was dated older than 40,000 years by Japanese scientists.
Scientists at the Swedish Museum of Natural History will examine the Pleistocene predator’s DNA.
‘This is a unique discovery of the first-ever remains of a fully grown Pleistocene wolf with its tissue preserved. We will be comparing it to modern-day wolves to understand how the species has evolved and to reconstruct its appearance,’ said an excited Albert Protopopov, from the Republic of Sakha Academy of Sciences.
It’s unclear what species the wolf is, though it’s unlikely it was a dire wolf (sorry GoT fans), as they roamed the Americas. It’s most likely a megafaunal wolf, a form of Canis lupus, the gray wolf, adapted for a cold clime and for scavenging on Pleistocene megafauna.
The Pleistocene wolf’s head is 40cm long, so half of the whole body length of a modern wolf which varies from 66 to 86cm.
‘Their muscles, organs, and brains are in good condition,’ said Naoki Suzuki, a professor of paleontology and medicine with the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo, who studied the remains with a CT scanner.
‘We want to assess their physical capabilities and ecology by comparing them with the lions and wolves of today.’
During the Pleistocene, which dates from 2.6 million years ago to around 11,700 years ago when the last Ice Age came to an end, plenty of large creatures roamed the frozen plains of Siberia. As the planet warms, the region is likely to yield more remains, according to Protopopov.