Scientists are studying the remains of a Pleistocene wolf, dating back to 40,000 years ago, which was found “perfectly preserved” in permafrost in Siberia, Russia.
The severed head of the wolf, believed to 2 to 3 years old when it died, was unearthed last year in the shores of Tirekhtyakh River in Yakutia, the Siberian Times reported.
Albert Protopopov, head of the department of mammoth fauna research at the Academy of Sciences of the Republic said the find represents the first-ever remains of a fully grown Pleistocene wolf with its tissue preserved.
“We often find wolf skulls quite often, this is a common find… even several puppies have already been found. The uniqueness of this find is that we found the head of an adult wolf with perfectly preserved soft tissues and brain,” Protopopov told Interfax-Far East.
The wolf head measures about 40 cm (about 15 inches) long, said to be about half the full length of a modern wolf. Images of the discovery show that the wolf’s fur and fangs are still intact.
The head is being studied in Yakutsk, where scientists from Japan and Sweden have also joined the team of researchers analyzing the find.
According to the Siberian Times, the discovery was announced at an exhibition in Tokyo, Japan, where scientists also presented the discovery of the remains of well-preserved ancient cave lion cubs.
“Their muscles, organs and brains are in good condition,” said Naoki Suzuki, a professor of palaeontology and medicine with the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo, who studied the remains with a CT scanner, as per the Siberian Times.
“We want to assess their physical capabilities and ecology by comparing them with the lions and wolves of today,” Suzuki said.