Melting permafrost around the world continues to reveal surprises and treasures, the most recent of which is the incredibly well-preserved remains of an ice age wolf pup. The specimen was found in 2016 in Canada’s Yukon territory, it also joined by the mummified remains of a caribou calf. Researchers estimate that both specimens are more than 50,000 years old.
Both specimens were preserved with incredible detail; the wolf pup includes fur, its full body, intact skin, and tail. Though the caribou calf isn’t in as good of shape, only featuring its front half, it still offers an incredible look at the ancient creature. According to researchers, it is very rare to find remains like this that contain skin, fur, and muscle.
The discovery provides researchers with both the predator and the prey, a unique situation amplified by the high level of preservation due to permafrost. The specimens’ presence in the ice indicates they had lived in a cold, likely dry period of time, helping lead to the preservation.
Future research will help shed light on the creatures, potentially turning up things like gut bacteria possibly preserved by the cold, as well as a look into the creatures’ DNA. A similar discovery was made in Siberia where melting permafrost revealed a well-preserved foal.
Current estimates put the wolf pup’s age at around 8 weeks old when it died. The remains were turned over to the Canadian Conservation Institute and they’ll spend the rest of this month on display at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, according to CBC.
SOURCE: The Guardian
Image via Government of Yukon