Scientists working in the Siberian Arctic Circle discovered a severed wolf's head believed to be around 40,000 years old. They are baffled as to how the head stayed intact all this time.
By, 16 Jun 2019
The preserved head is twice the size of a modern grey wolf, which measures around 9 inches long.
Were early ice-age hunters responsible? Probably not!
Scientists are yet to come up with an adequate theory as what caused the decapitation. Some speculated that the animal may have been hunted and butchered by ice-age humans, although other experts claim human beings had yet to settle in the region.
Dr Albert Protopopov is one of the scientists studying the find. He said:
"This is a unique discovery of the first-ever remains of a fully grown Pleistocene wolf with its tissue preserved. We will be comparing it to modern-day wolves to understand how the species has evolved and to reconstruct its appearance."
As well as being significantly larger than it's modern-day relatives, the skull also has a thick, woolly mammoth type coat.
In fact, the head could easily be mistaken for a bear's, but DNA testing ruled out the possibility. Dr Protopopov continued:
"It is definitely a wolf. Maybe the hair colouring makes people think it is a bear, but actually, it is quite strange to hear, as morphologically this is a very typical wolf. Yet when we made CTA scans of the wolf, we found out that there are some peculiarities. Some parts of the skull are more developed than in modern wolves."
A new type of wolf?
The scientific community is excited by the discovery of a new sub-species of the wolf, something which may completely change the way we think about the domestic dog's original ancestor.
The team are planning a return expedition next year, where they're hoping to find the rest of the body.
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