Huge, Shaggy Head Of 40,000-Year-Old Wolf Unearthed In Siberia

The 40,000-year-old head of a Pleistocene wolf.Image: Albert ProtopopovA well-preserved head belonging to an ancient species of Pleistocene wolf has been pulled from the permafrost of northeastern Siberia. The enormous, well-preserved head could yield important genetic information about the evolutionary history of wolves and the origin of domesticated dogs. A local resident living in the Abyisky district in northern Yakutia, Siberia discovered the disembodied head in melting permafrost during the summer of 2018, the Siberian Times reported. The discovery was made public at the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, Japan during the grand opening of its mammoth exhibit. “This discovery is amazing,” Julie Meachen, a vertebrate paleontologist and an associate professor at Des Moines University, said in an email to Gizmodo. “It made me want to go to Siberia and look for more Ice Age specimens. It looks like it died yesterday! We’ve never seen an Ice Age wolf in the flesh before and this is a huge specimen.”Image: Albert ProtopopovThe fully grown Pleistocene wolf was around two to four years old when it perished. Images of the wolf taken by Albert Protopopov, a researcher at the Republic of Sakha Academy of Sciences, show clumps of thick fur on its head, an immaculate snout, and a terrifying set of fangs. The head is enormous, measuring 15.7 inches (40 cm) in length. A modern wolf’s head measures only 9.1 to 11 inches (23 to 28 cm). Meachen, a specialist in the evolution and geographical spread of ancient wolves, said the the preserved brain will be especially interesting to study. The soft tissues, she said, could provide new insights into these creatures, since those are not usually preserved in the fossil record. The researchers might even be able to do some interesting work with the tissue inside the nasal passages “in terms of what was for sensory (smelling) purposes and what was for thermoregulatory (heating and cooling) purposes,” said Meachen, who’s not involved with the ...Read more

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