A gold digger has made a unprecedented discovery within the Yukon (Canada), a wonderfully preserved wolf pup that has been frozen in permafrost for 57,000 years. the superb condition of the animal, a female who has been called Zhùr by local people, has given researchers a wealth of data about her age, lifestyle and relationship with modern wolves. The findings appear Dec. 21 within the journal.It is the foremost complete wolf mummy ever found. it’s practically 100% intact. the sole thing missing is that the eyes, ”says Julie Meachen, professor of anatomy at Des Moines University. And the very fact that it’s so complete has allowed us to open numerous lines of research to rebuild his life.”

One of the most important questions on Zhùr that the researchers tried to answer was how it ended up preserved within the permafrost, which is way from easy. «It is rare to seek out these mummies within the Yukon. The animal has got to die during a place of permafrost, where the bottom is frozen all the time, and it’s to be buried very quickly, as in the other fossilization process ”, Meachen explains.

“If it stays too long within the frozen tundra, it’ll decompose or be eaten,” he adds.Another important factor is how the wolf died. Animals that die slowly or are hunted by predators are less likely to be in pristine conditions. “We believe that he died instantly from the collapse of his lair,” says the primary author. “Our data showed that she was well fed which she was around 7 weeks old when she died,” she continues, “so we feel a touch better knowing that the poor thing didn’t suffer for long.

The team was also ready to analyze Zhur’s diet, heavily influenced by how close it lived to water. “Normally, once you consider wolves within the glacial period , you imagine them eating bison, musk oxen, or other large animals on earth. One thing that surprised us was that she ate aquatic resources, particularly salmon.Analysis of Zhur’s genome also confirmed that it’s descended from ancient wolves from Russia, Siberia and Alaska, which also are ancestors of recent wolves. Although researchers have gotten many answers about the wolves of the past, some questions remain about Zhùr and his family.

“They asked us why she was the sole wolf found within the den and what happened to her mother or her brothers,” says Meachen. It might be that she was a singular puppy. Or the opposite wolves weren’t within the den during the collapse. Unfortunately, we’ll never know. The research team believes that more and more permafrost mummies could also be found within the coming years. “One small advantage of global climate change is that we are getting to find more of those mummies because the permafrost melts, says Meachen. That’s an honest way for science to raised rebuild that point , but it also shows us what proportion our planet is warming. we actually must take care