Rus­sian sci­en­tists present re­mains of pre­his­toric puppy found in per­mafrost

The Globe and Mail (Ontario Edition) - - NEWS - DARIA LITVINOVA RO­MAN KUTUKOV YAKUTSK, RUS­SIA

Rus­sian sci­en­tists on Mon­day showed off a pre­his­toric puppy, be­lieved to be 18,000 years old, found in per­mafrost in the coun­try’s Far East.

Dis­cov­ered last year in a lump of frozen mud near the city of Yakutsk, the puppy is un­usu­ally well-pre­served, with its hair, teeth, whiskers and eye­lashes still in­tact.

“This puppy has all its limbs, pelage – fur, even whiskers. The nose is vis­i­ble. There are teeth. We can de­ter­mine due to some data that it is a male,” Niko­lai An­drosov, di­rec­tor of the Northern World pri­vate mu­seum where the re­mains are stored, said at the pre­sen­ta­tion at the Yakutsk’s Mam­moth Mu­seum, which spe­cial­izes in an­cient spec­i­mens.

In re­cent years, Rus­sia’s Far East has pro­vided many riches for sci­en­tists study­ing the re­mains of an­cient an­i­mals. As the per­mafrost melts, af­fected by cli­mate change, more and more parts of woolly mam­moths, ca­nines and other pre­his­toric an­i­mals are be­ing dis­cov­ered. Of­ten, it is mam­moth-tusk hunters who dis­cover them.

When the puppy was dis­cov­ered, sci­en­tists from the Stock­holm-based Cen­ter for Palaeo­ge­net­ics took a piece of bone to study its DNA.

“The first step was of course to send the sam­ple to ra­dio car­bon dat­ing to see how old it was, and when we got the re­sults back it turned out that it was roughly 18,000 years old,” Love Dalen, pro­fes­sor of evo­lu­tion­ary ge­net­ics at the cen­tre, said.

Fur­ther tests, how­ever, left the sci­en­tists with more ques­tions than an­swers – they couldn’t defini­tively tell whether it was a dog or a wolf. He added that the sci­en­tists are about to do a third round of genome se­quenc­ing, which might solve the mys­tery.

SERGEI FYODOROV/YAKUTSK MAM­MOTH MU­SEUM VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rus­sian sci­en­tists are still un­cer­tain whether this pre­his­toric puppy, dis­cov­ered in mud last year near Yakutsk, Rus­sia, is a wolf or dog.

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