Neil Loveless, a gold miner from Canada, initially thought that he came across a recently deceased dog, when in fact he discovered an ancient mummified wolf. The finding occurred in 2016 and although it looked like an ordinary pup, the body was actually the one of a very special dog because, after it was dated with radiocarbon, it was revealed that it was 50,000 years old.
Found near Dawson City, it might just be one of a kind, at least that’s what the Yukon government stated in a press release. Paleontologist Grant Zazula said that “To our knowledge, this is the only mummified ice age wolf ever found in the world”. Experts from the Yukon Paleontology Program took in the rare specimen in order to be properly analyzed.
The Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre shared a Facebook post which had a vet reckoning that the pup was a female and it died when she was almost eight weeks old. Supposedly, it died when its burrow collapsed and despite its age, the skin, hair and muscle tissue were perfectly preserved. Zazula said that “Yukon has a wealth of fossil bones and mummified carcasses of ice age mammals are rarely unearthed here from the permafrost”.
However, this 50,000-year-old puppy wasn’t the only discovery made by miners. Also in 2016, a gold miner came across an old caribou buried at the site which contains a volcanic ash bed which is believed to date back 80,000 years ago. This would make the finding one of the world’s oldest preserved mammal tissue.
The fossil consists of almost the entire front half of the animal, including the head, torso and the two front limbs. Just like the wolf pup, the caribou had its hair, muscle and skin perfectly preserved.