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The mummified wolf cub was found in the Yukon Territory, where it was perfectly preserved in permafrost for 57,000 years.
Puppy mummy “100 percent harmless” gives an unprecedented view of the life of ancient wolves, a new study published on Monday Cell Biology. The puppy may be six to eight weeks old, and when its wolf cave falls on top of it, it is trapped under frozen ground and mummified for millennia.
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This animal was a gray wolf (Canis lupus) Similar to those living today, although it led a different life from modern wolves, according to the study.
Scientists in the US and Canada named it Mummy Shur, which means “wolf” in the language of the local Trondak Hwachin people.
“Sur is unique because mummified bodies with protected hair, skin and flesh are incredibly rare in North America,” said Grant Sasula, a paleontologist with the Yukon government.
In 2016, gold miners near Dawson City discovered the mummy when the wall of Person Frost melted in the water. The body was trapped in the frozen mud.
“She’s the most complete wolf mummy ever found,” said lead study author Julie Meachan. Eurek Alert.
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Meechan is a professor of anatomy at the University of Des Moines, Iowa, and has been instrumental in determining the age of animals.
“The fact that she is perfect has basically allowed us to do a lot of research on her to reconstruct her life,” she said.
Researchers spent four years studying in detail how to determine a mummy’s age, diet, and cause of death.
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They were surprised to learn that Shur ate a lot of fish when they expected bulls and wild buffalo to play a big role in the diet. Shur’s genes revealed that he was the descendant of ancient wolves that once roamed Alaska and Siberia. However, the wolf is not the direct ancestor of the gray wolves that inhabit the area today.
The researchers determined that he was alone in the dead cave when he died, and that this was a sudden death. Cold temperatures and soil would have been ideal for creating mummy, they say.
Mummified wolves are rare in the Yukon, but millennia-old mummies are increasingly found in the once frozen parts of the world due to climate change. In Siberia, for example, the melting of permafrost has recently revealed a number of woolly mammoths and other ice age creatures.
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“One of the consequences of climate change in the Arctic is that more mummies will be found in the future,” Meechan said in a video released with the study.
“While this is very interesting in terms of science, it highlights an issue of global warming and we need to take action now to protect this planet and all its treasures.”
Sur is currently on permanent display at Yukon’s Beringia Interpretive Center in the White House.
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