A mummified baby wolf pulls oah and aah from the explorer.
An almost perfectly intact creature, believed to be an incredible 57,000 years old, was discovered by a goldsmith in the Yukon Territory, the December 21 issue of Current Biology noted.
The animal was given the name Zhur, which in the indigenous language of the khan means “wolf”.
“She is the most complete wolf mummy ever found,” explained Julie Meachen, a professor of paleontology at the University of Des Moines. “The animal must die in a place of permafrost, where the ground is frozen all the time and must be buried very quickly, like any other fossilization process.”
Based on a detailed forensic analysis, Zhur was approximately 7 weeks old at the time of her death. Since modern wolves in the area often give birth to cubs in early summer, the puppy probably died in late July.
A mummified wolf, similar to this one, was discovered in Canada.
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During Žur’s short lifespan in the later phases of the Pleistocene epoch, which was marked by a long ice age, the sea level was significantly lower than today. The dry land region connected Canada with Siberia, which allowed the animals to roam between the continents, according to Current Biology.
The Zhur breed is a likely ancestor of almost all wolf species, with the likely exception of the Himalayan wolf, Ars Technica noted.
This conclusion was reached by Meachen and her team who noticed that Zhur was not a direct ancestor of today’s Klondike wolves.
At some point over the past 56,000 years, the Klondike wolf population has either become extinct or abandoned the area and has been replaced by a species less associated with the Zura.
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Another remarkable discovery of the sample was that the baby wolf apparently enjoyed a diet rich in fish.
Modern wolf puppies begin to eat solid food near the 6-week-old mark. It is believed that Zhur’s mother probably weaned her cubs from the milk and started bringing them solid food.
“Usually, when you think of wolves in the Ice Age, you think of them eating bison or musk oxen or other large animals on land,” Meachen explained. “One thing that surprised us was that she ate water resources, especially salmon.”