Recently, a well-preserved ice-age puppy was found in the permafrost in Russia. Now, scientists are asking whether the 12 000 year-old puppy is the link between dogs and wolves.
Amazingly, the ancient pup was found withhis brain still intact. The stomach contents also survived since the Pleistocene era 12,460 years ago, the Telegraph reported.
The puppy have been termed a“Tumat dog”, named after a nearby village.
The pup and his littermate, who was found earlier, could answer the question: When did dogs become man’s best friend?
The ice age puppy and his sibling were found in a remote region of the Arctic tundra in the northeast region of Russia called Yakutia.
Sergei Fyodorov at the Mammoth Museum of the North-Eastern Federal in the regional capital, shared the importance of the find with theAgence France-Presse.
The puppy has undergone a preliminary examination, in which the brain, which was 70 to 80 percent intact, was removed. It isa world first because puppy bones are very thin and their skullsdelicate.
Dr. Pavel Nikolsky said the brain was dried out, but several areas like theparencephalon, cerebellum, and pituitary gland were visible.
The ice age puppy will undergoseveral examinations in the future and his brain will compared to those of a modern wolf and dog.
Also, the bacteria in the stomach and parasitic ticks found on his fur will be analyzed to learn about Siberian life in the Pleistocene.
Researchers have already taken a look inside the ice age puppy’s tummy where they found twigs and grasswhich may reveal what he had eaten before passing away.
DNA analysis revealed that the ice age puppy and his littermate were dogs and not wolves. But it will take a full genome sequencing to find out if they were wild or domesticated. Researchers will have to wait another year for that to be completed.
Scientists and dog researchers have long wondered when and where wolves became domesticated dogs. Although many theories have been presented, none of them have been proven. But scientists know that dogs became human companions long before we even started to farm.
“Thus far, the lineages of wolves that likely gave rise to dogs have not yet been discovered and it’s possible that these puppies could be on that lineage, which would be very exciting,” said Greger Larson, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford. He’ll be working to determine the when and where dogs became “man’s best friend.”
So far, some dog studies have indicated that dogs were domesticated in Europe and the Middle East first. Others studies say it happened in Mongolia which is near to the ice age puppy’s permafrost grave. While a more recent study suggests Southeast Asia exclusively.
Hopefully, this ice age puppy can help solve the mystery.