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"Excellent condition": researchers examine wolf from the permafrost

The mummy of a wolf pup frozen for around 57,000 years gives scientists exciting insights into the way of life of the animals of that time. The excellent condition of the remains allows detailed conclusions to be drawn about the age and lifestyle of the animals as well as the relationship to modern wolf species, announced the University of Des Moines in the USA. The mummy was discovered in 2016 by a worker at a gold mine in the Canadian permafrost. The animal was named Zhùr by the indigenous people of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in in the Yukon Territory.

"It's the most complete wolf mummy ever found," said Julie Meachen, Des Moines University anatomy researcher and one of the study's authors. "It's practically 100 percent intact, the only thing missing are the eyes." It seldom happens that such mummies are found in the region. The animals would have to be preserved in the ice quickly after their death - before the body decomposes or is eaten by other animals.

"We suspect she was in her den and died quickly from its sudden collapse," explained Meachen. "Our data shows she hadn't starved and was about seven weeks old at the time of death." The researchers were also able to study the animal's diet: "One thing that surprised us in particular was that she also ate aquatic animals, especially salmon." Wolves in the Ice Age would usually have eaten bison, musk ox, or other large land animals. In the animal's genome, the scientists found connections to older wolf species from Russia, Siberia and Alaska.

After cleaning and preservation, Zhùr is to be exhibited at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center in Whitehorse in northwest Canada.