Gold miners in Canada’s Klondike region discovered the mummified remains of an Ice Age wolf puppy and part of a caribou with fur and tissue still intact.
The specimens were radiocarbon dated to over 50,000 years old and were “remarkably well-preserved with hair, skin and muscle tissue intact,” according to a press release from the Yukon government.
“These world-class finds shed light on Yukon’s fascinating ice age history and will help us understand how these long gone creatures lived in the environment they inhabited,” Premier Sandy Silver said in a statement.
The remains of both animals were discovered in 2016. The wolf specimen was found complete with head, tail, paws, skin and hair.
The caribou, which was discovered in a volcanic ash bed that dates back 80,000 years, is thought to be one of the oldest mummified mammal tissue in the world, according to the press release.
“These were an amazing find, and it’s a great opportunity to work collaboratively with the Government of Yukon and our community partners,” a Traditional Territory Chief Roberta Joseph said.
“We are excited to share these significant discoveries that showcase Yukon’s unique scientific and cultural history,” Jeanie Dendys, Yukon’s cultural and tourism minister said.
“These specimens will help scientists learn more about the ancient mammal species that roamed Beringia, increasing our knowledge and ability to share the stories of this lost, ancient land,” she said.
Yukon has a wealth of fossil and bones and mummified carcasses of ice age mammals, according to paleontologist Grant Zazula.
Both the wolf and the caribou species survived beyond the end of the ice age, but mummified remains are extremely rare.
“To our knowledge this is the only mummified ice age wolf ever found in the world,” Zazula said.
The animals’ remains are on display in Dawson City through the end of September.
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