- An incredibly well-preserved giant wolf head was found in Siberia in 2018.
- More details about the specimen's history, anatomy, and physiology will emerge after a DNA extraction.
A large, 40,000-year-old severed wolf head was found by a local man near the Tirekhtyakh River in Eastern Siberia. Because the head was incredibly well preserved, the discovery presents a rare opportunity to delve into wolf genealogy and evolution.
"This discovery is amazing," Julie Meachen, a paleontologist and professor at the University of Des Moines who specializes in ancient wolf evolution (but is not involved with this finding), told Gizmodo.
The specimen, which according to scientists was fully grown when it died between the ages of 2 and 4 years old, was likely fearsome to behold. Today, the average wolf head measures between 9 and 11 inches in length. Meanwhile, the ancient wolf's head measured a whopping 15.7 inches in length.
Still snarling after 40,000 years, a giant Pleistocene wolf discovered in Yakutia.- The Siberian Times (@siberian_times) June 8, 2019
Sensational find of head of the beast with its brain intact, preserved since prehistoric times in permafrost.https://t.co/w4FoRB16Ur pic.twitter.com/8QbthEfay1
How do we know the specimen was so big? Because it hunted sizable game like horses and bison, much like other ancient breeds, including Dire Wolves-which were real and existed thousands of years ago, long before Game of Thrones.
Mechen says this wolf probably isn't a Dire Wolf, but more conclusive evidence about the ancient predator will be available after scientists at the Swedish Museum of Natural History extract some of its DNA.
While it's not uncommon for discoveries like this one to occur in the Siberian wilderness, it is rare to find a specimen at this level of preservation.
"It made me want to go to Siberia and look for more Ice Age specimens," said Meachen. "It looks like it died yesterday! We’ve never seen an Ice Age wolf in the flesh before and this is a huge specimen."
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