Incredibly preserved head of giant wolf that was severed from its body 40,000 years ago is unearthed in Siberia
- Decapitated head was found preserved in permafrost within the Yakutia region
- Head is almost 16 inches long; half the full length of a modern wolf in Siberia
- Unlikely to have been the trophy of ancient hunter as predated early man there
Scientists have unveiled the severed head of a huge prehistoric wolf baring its teeth.
The snarling beast with its brain intact was found preserved in permafrost in the Yakutia region on Siberia – and dates from more than 40,000 years ago.
It was discovered above the Arctic Circle by local man Pavel Efimov in summer 2018 near the remote Tirekhtyakh River but the find was only now revealed.
The predator with a thick ‘mammoth-like’ coat and impressive fangs seems to have been larger than today’s Siberian wolves.
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Frozen in time: The snarling beast with its brain intact was found preserved in permafrost in the Yakutia region on Siberia – and dates from more than 40,000 years ago
The reason the wolf’s head was severed is not known, but it’s unlikely to have been the trophy of an ancient hunter since early man only started to arrive in this part of northern Russia around 32,500 years ago, it is believed.
Russian scientist Dr Albert Protopopov 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.’
The head is almost 16 inches long, around half the full length of a modern wolf in Siberia.
Scientists at the Swedish Museum of Natural History will examine the Pleistocene predator’s DNA, reported The Siberian Times.
The discovery of the wolf was announced in Tokyo at an exhibition of remains of frozen beasts including woolly mammoths.
Comparative: The decapitated head is almost 16 inches long, around half the full length of a modern wolf in Siberia, and pre-dates human existence in the region by 8,000 years
In detail: A CT scan of the wolf’s head shows exactly how much of it was preserved in the freezing temperatures of Siberia, where it lay for thousands of centuries
In tact: The animal’s razor-sharp teeth also remain in tact, having escaped years of erosion from the elements and interference from predators in the wild region
The wolf was found around the same time as a previously announced cave lion cub named Spartak and the Ice Age remains are displayed together.
‘Their muscles, organs and brains are in good condition,’ said Naoki Suzuki, a professor of palaeontology and medicine with the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo, who made CT scans of the ancient remains.
‘We want to assess their physical capabilities and ecology by comparing them with the lions and wolves of today.’
Impressive: The astonishing discovery was announced in Tokyo, Japan, during the opening of a grandiose Woolly Mammoth exhibition organised by Yakutian and Japanese scientists
Remarkable: Russian scientist Dr Albert Protopopov said: ‘This is a unique discovery of the first-ever remains of a fully grown Pleistocene wolf with its tissue preserved.’
In-depth analysis: A further CT scan of the wolf’s head illustrates the internal organs, including the animal’s brain, remain preserved alongside tissue and arteries
Location: The remarkable find was discovered above the Arctic Circle by a local man in summer 2018, near the remote Tirekhtyakh River, but the find was only now revealed now
WHY CAN WOLVES AND DOGS INTERBREED?
Wolves and dogs are interfertile, meaning they can breed and produce viable offspring and these offspring are capable of reproducing themselves.
They are members of a wider group, the genus Canis, containing multiple species such as wolves, coyotes, jackals, dingoes, and dogs
The members of Canus can potentially all potentially interbreed.
Dogs and wolves share an evolutionary past and thus share many physical and behavioural traits.
Dogs evolved from wolves through a centuries-long process of domestication which led to an alteration of the dog’s life cycle and behaviour.
People who own wolf-dog hybrids often find that their pet’s behaviour makes it a challenge for them to care for.
The diversity of genetic composition leads to inconsistent behaviour and makes them more difficult to predict.
Wolves and dogs mature at different rates, which makes the physical and mental development of a hybrid animal unpredictable.
Sexual maturity of wolves signals a shift in hormone quantity and balance.
This hormonal change is often coupled with these changes in the animal.