Perfectly Preserved 18,000-Year-Old Puppy Uncovered in Siberia

Scientists don't know if this was a dog or a wolf, or perhaps a cross-breed.
Fabienne Lang
The 18,000-year-old puppySergey Fedorov/The Siberian Times

Discovering amazingly well-preserved prehistoric animal or human specimens is enough to make paleontologists whoop with joy. This was the case when the remains of an 18,000-year-old puppy were uncovered in Siberia's permafrost.

The pup, which has been named 'Dogor' — 'Friend' in the Yakut language from the surrounding area — was discovered in the north-east part of Yakutsk in Siberia.

Dogor is being studied at the Swedish Centre for Palaeogenetics (CPG). The team of scientists has yet to figure out whether this is a dog or a wolf, or perhaps a cross-breed.


Its eyelashes, whiskers, teeth, and fur are extremely well-preserved

The permafrost in Siberia is much like a natural refrigerator, which means that this ancient canine was discovered in very good condition.

Perfectly Preserved 18,000-Year-Old Puppy Uncovered in Siberia
The 2-month-old puppy's well-preserved teeth, Source: Sergey Fedorov/The Siberian Times

Its eyelashes, whiskers, teeth, and fur were very well preserved. However, researchers are still scratching their heads trying to figure out whether this was a dog or a wolf. What they do know, though, is that the puppy died when it was only around two-months-old.

They also know it was a male and lived around 18,000 years ago

The preliminary genome sequencing from the CPG was unable to determine what kind of furry canine this was though.

First reported in the Siberian Times, Love Dalén professor of evolutionary genetics at the CPG told the newspaper that "The Centre has Europe’s largest DNA bank of all canines from around the globe, yet in this case, they couldn’t identify it from the first try."

Adding to this remark, Sergey Fedorov from the North-Eastern Federal University at Yakutsk said "This is intriguing, what if it’s a dog? We can’t wait to get results from further tests."

The region in Siberia and prehistoric settlements 

Research has shown that humans settled in the northern part of Russia some 32,500 years ago. Furthermore, these humans domesticated dogs from wolves between 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. So, this means that Dogor could have been anything from a domesticated home dog to a ravenous wolf, or something in between. 

Perfectly Preserved 18,000-Year-Old Puppy Uncovered in Siberia
It's hard to tell whether this is a dog or a wolf, Source: Sergey Fedorov/The Siberian Times

Permafrost ideally cools and preserves organic matter. Its sub-zero temperatures fend off most bacterial and fungal growth that usually happen in decaying or dying organic matter. This is why Dogor was so well preserved up in Yakutsk. 

We'll have to wait and see to find out if the puppy was indeed a dog, a wolf, or something else of the canine variety.


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