Creature from ice Age A gold miner discovered his remains in 2016 near Dawson City in the Yukon. It was called Zhùr which means wolf in the local indigenous Han language.
It seems that AnimalShe, who confirmed she was a female, died suddenly when her den collapsed.
The remains contain particularly exceptional details of muscle tissue and allow for an insight into what life is like Canada 2.6 million years ago. They are also the oldest wolf ever recorded and may help shed light on the animal’s evolution.
Des Moines University anatomy professor in Iowa, Julie Michin, described the creature: “The most complete wolf mummy that has ever been found.” Ms. Mitch added that the wolf was “100 percent healthy,” saying the only thing missing were her eyes.
The fact that the remains were complete allowed the scientists to “fundamentally reconstruct her life,” the professor said.
Yukon government paleontologist Dr. Grant Zazula described the wolf as “beautiful” and “amazing” and said it had: “nice little feet and a tail and a curvy upper lip showing its teeth.”
Dr. Grant highlights how rare a mummy has been found in the Yukon. For an animal to be embalmed, it must be buried very quickly. The paleontologist explained: “The animal must die in the permafrost site, where the ground freezes all the time, and it must be buried very quickly, like any other fossilization process.”
The longer the dead animal remains exposed, the more likely it is that it will be eaten by predators or begin to decompose.
Ms Mitch attributed the mummification to the fact that the pup died in a lair collapse. She added, “Our data showed that she was not suffering from hunger and she was about seven weeks old, so we feel a little better because the poor little girl did not suffer for a long time.”
At seven months old, the area’s modern gray wolves have only just been weaned from their mother.
This means that by studying the chemicals in the puppy’s hair and teeth, the researchers were able to figure out what the mother would have eaten and it appears that her diet was mostly composed of aquatic foods.
Ms. Mitch said they were “surprised” by this finding. “Usually when you think of wolves in the Ice Age, you think that they eat bison or musk ox or other large animals on Earth,” she said.
By analyzing the wolf genome, the scientists also concluded that it is descended from ancient wolves of Russia, Siberia and Alaska, and not the gray wolves of North America.
The discovery of the corpse is thought to be due in part to climate change, making mummies more visible as permafrost thaws.
Ms Mitch described this finding as “a small upside in climate change” but highlighted the fact that we “really need to be careful.”
The remains are currently on display in Canada at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center, Whitehorse.
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