It is always interesting when a human or animal that has been buried for hundreds of years is discovered. We often learn something about ourselves and the world around us, especially if it is well preserved.
Perhaps that is why experts are so excited over the discovery of an animal that has been frozen in the ground for some 57,000 years! An analysis is currently underway of the body of a wolf mummy.
Although it has been dead for thousands of years, it may still have quite a story to tell. The mummy, which is of a puppy, was found in 2016 and put in a freezer. The analysis being conducted today may help to determine how wolves migrated across Europe, Asia, and North America.
According to National Geographic, the frozen mummy was discovered when gold miners were blasting permafrost with a water cannon. After paleontologists saw the body, they determined that it was a female cub that was well preserved.
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It is rare for this type of find to take place in the Yukon. Although the Wolf is thousands of years old, it still has a fur coat and the papillae on her tongue are intact. According to National Geographic, a paleontologist at Des Moines University, Julie Meachen, shared that this type of preservation is common in Siberia because of the way permafrost is able to preserve things. It is less common in the Yukon, Alaska, and the rest of North America.
She also said that the wolf was about seven weeks old when she died.
Zhur is the name that they chose for the Wolf, which has the meaning of “Wolf” according to the local Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people. It is thought that the wolf was around during the interglacial period.
National Geographic further reported that a paleontologist at the University of Copenhagen, Ross Barnett, said that there isn’t much known about that time period as far as mummies are concerned.
Zhur may have belonged to wolves that have a similar genetic makeup to those in Alaska and Eurasia, but they are not likely the same ones that are in the Yukon these days.
As reported by National Geographic, a paleogeneticist from McMaster University, Tyler Murchie, said, “To have such extraordinary preservation of a carnivore is a unique situation to look into Ice Age ecosystems from a predator’s point of view. Ancient DNA repeatedly demonstrates how much more complex evolutionary histories and paleoecology are than we might otherwise derive from studies of bones and fossils.”
More than likely, Zhur died when a den collapsed. They did a study on her teeth that showed she likely ate meat from rivers and streams, such as fish. Since she was buried so quickly, it is why her body was preserved so well.
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