Scientists have discovered a very well-preserved body of an 18,000-year-old puppy in frozen soil in Siberia. They are unsure whether the Siberian permafrost kept the dog or the wolf, because during this period the wolves ran wild and the dogs were already domesticated.
One of the scientists who has studied the animal, professor of Evolutionary Genetics Love Dalén, says this discovery could tell us more about the early domestication of dogs and is sure of the age of the puppy.
“It was amazingly well preserved even before they cleaned it up. [When we found it] we didn’t know how old it was. They said they found it in the permafrost, but it happens that things get frozen in there that are only a few hundred years old or even a few decades. We were excited about it, but we had a healthy dose of skepticism until we radiocarbon dated it. Obviously, when we got the results that it was 18,000 years old, that changes everything. When we got that result it was amazing. 18,000 years ago, is an interesting time period where we think a lot of stuff is happening with both wolves and dogs genetically.”
Wolf or dog?
Scientists cannot say for sure whether it is a wild wolf or a domesticated dog.
“We cannot separate it from a modern wolf, Pleistocene [Ice Age] wolf or dog. One reason why it might be difficult to say is because this one is right there at the divergence time. So, it could be a very early modern wolf or very early dog or a late Pleistocene wolf,” Dalén added.
While Dalén is studying with other colleagues studying the puppy’s rib bone in Denmark, Sergei Fedorov studies other remains, including fur, in Russia.
“Just imagine, this puppy has been lying underground in the same pose and condition for 18,000 years without being disturbed at all. I really carefully removed the dirt and other debris stuck to its body step by step, revealing a wonderful condition fur which is extremely rare for animals of that time period,” Federov said.
Genetic tests show that it is a male and was given the name Dogor – it’s Yakutian word for “friend”.
Source and credit: https://themindunleashed.com/2019/11/scientists-discover-perfectly-preserved-18000-year-old-puppy.html, S. Fedorov/ Centre for Paleogenetics