57,000-year old wolf cub discovered in Canadian permafrost

GNN  |  Dec 23, 2020

A wolf cub carcass found in northern Canada lived at least 56,000 years ago, scientists have established. The perfectly preserved wolf cub was found in 2016 by a gold miner near Dawson city and handed over to Julie Meachen and her team at Des Moines University for analysis. At the time, Meachen had remarked “I’ve never seen such a well-preserved mummy before,” adding that “I was over the moon and so excited when I was asked to work on it.”

The remains have given researchers a wealth of information about its life and the ecology of the species. The cub has been named Zhùr, meaning ‘wolf’ in the local language.

Researchers used DNA analysis and carbon dating to conclude that the pup, which lived around 57,000 years ago, was female and weighed just under 700 grams. They estimated that she was seven weeks old when she died during the Last Glacial Period when polar and mountain ice sheets were spreading wide across Earth.

The fur, organs and bones of the mummy were all well preserved.

Researchers analyzed Zhùr’s diet and found it mostly ate fish, particularly salmon. This suggests the pup and her mother were hunting in rivers during her short life.

The study noted that while ancient wolf fossils are relatively common in the Yukon or neighboring Alaska, mummies of larger mammals are rare.



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