Scientists are puzzled by a recent discovery in Siberia. An 18,000-year-old puppy, believed to be just two months old when it died, was found in permafrost in the vicinity of the Indigirka River in Siberia, northeast of Yakutsk.
According to The Siberian Times, the pup is being studied at the Swedish Centre for Palaeogenetics (CPG). Because permafrost creates the perfect conditions to preserve organic matter (sub-zero temperatures prevent bacterial and fungal growth), it still has fur, whiskers, and teeth. However, researchers are still unsure what species the specimen once belonged to.
While we currently know that the pup, named Dogor (which means “Friend” in the Yakut language), is male and approximately 18,000-years-old, preliminary genome sequencing hasn’t yet been able to tell whether the specimen is a wolf, a dog, or perhaps a combination of both.
“The Centre has Europe’s largest DNA bank of all canines from around the globe, yet in this case they couldn’t identify it from the first try,” said Love Dalén, professor of evolutionary genetics at the CPG.
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Sergey Fedorov, from the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North at the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, added; “This is intriguing, what if it’s a dog? We can’t wait to get results from further tests.”
As IFLScience points out, humans migrated to Russia around 32,500 years ago. Furthermore, research suggests that humans domesticated dogs from wolves between 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. This means that Dogor could have been a loyal house dog, a hungry wolf, or anything in between.
This isn’t the first time a well-preserved specimen has provided insight to what life might have been like thousands of years ago. In past years, the 40,000-year-old head of an ice age wolf was discovered – complete with skin and fur. The head was found in permafrost in the Abyisky district of northern Yakutia.
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