AN ANCIENT puppy preserved in the permafrost has left scientists baffled as they struggle to identify the species of the unusual wolf-dog.
The creature was found in the vicinity of the Indigirka River in Siberia, north-east of Yakutsk. But, the Siberian Times reports that although the 18,000 year-old-specimen was in an excellent condition of preservation, researchers have been left confounded as to the exact species of what looked like a cross between a dog and a wolf. The initial genome sequencing performed by Swedish Centre for Palaeogenetics (CPG) failed to define whether the creature was a wolf or a dog.
The CPG is a joint venture between Stockholm University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History.
But while scientists were able to establish the creature lived about 18,000 years ago and it was about two-months-old at the time of its death, they have yet been unable to identify species of the unusual feature.
Sergey Fedorov from the North-Eastern Federal University’s Institute of Applied Ecology of the North said: “The Centre has the 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.
“This is intriguing, what if it’s a dog?
“We can’t wait to get results from further tests.”
The specimen found with all of its body intact, including whiskers and eyelashes.
Researchers theorise the puppy might be a dog, a wolf or possibly “the so-called wolfdog/early dog, a transitional stage from a wolf to a dog” the media outlet notes, adding the puppy was named Dogor which means “friend” in Yakut.
In June the severed head of a wolf that died about 40,000 years ago was found in Siberia.
The remains were so well preserved that the fur, teeth, brain and facial tissue are largely intact.
Pavel Yefimov, a local resident, discovered the head last summer on the banks of the Tirekhtyakh river close to the Arctic Circle in the region of Yakutia, according to the Siberian Times.
The head was handed to the Science Academy of Yakutia.
Researchers there sent samples and measurement data abroad and with help from colleagues in Japan and Sweden determined its age as approximately 40,000 years, the news outlet said.
The animal was visibly bigger than that of a modern wolf.
Siberia is an extensive geographical region spanning much of Eurasia and North Asia.
It has historically been a part of modern Russia since the 17th century.
The territory of Siberia extends eastwards from the Ural Mountains to the watershed between the Pacific and Arctic drainage basins.
Siberia accounts for 77 percent of Russia’s land area.
Although it is so large, it is home to only 36 million people.
This is equivalent to an average population density of about eight inhabitants per square mile, approximately equal to that of Australia.