The head of the mummified wolf puppy is remarkably well preserved. Photo: Government of Yukon
Other researchers around the world reacted with similar excitement to the discovery of this ancient predator and its prey, which are well enough preserved to allow for future investigation of factors such as cause of death, diet, health, age and genetics.
Elsa Panciroli, a palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh, said:” Ice age wolf bones are relatively common in the Yukon, but having an animal preserved with skin and fur is just exceptional – you simply want to reach out and stroke it. It’s an evocative glimpse into the ice age world .”
Thomas Higham, an expert in archaeological dating at the University of Oxford, said:” The remains are highly evocative because they enable us to make almost face-to-face connection with animals that are tens of thousands of years old, and yet look much more recent .”
The wolf and caribou are believed to have inhabited a dry tundra landscape alongside other animals such as woolly mammoths.
The preservation of the scalp and fur indicates they were living in a cold period, said Jan Zalasiewicz, a palaeobiologist at the University of Leicester.” A drier and more arid climate would help to preserve skin and fur, and this typically happens when the climate gets colder ,” he said.” The trick here is finding a means of freeze-drying the carcass in these arid conditions and interring it … you need to find a way to dry it and set it in the freezer very quickly .”
Panciroli said:” Hopefully farther research on this’ pup-sicle’ might yield some ancient DNA” they are able to offer new information about the wolf populations that lived in the Yukon at this time.” For example, where did they come from, and how are they related to modern wolves ?”