"57,000 YEAR-OLD WOLF PUPPY FOUND FROZEN IN YUKON PERMAFROST." A seven-week-old female wolf pup seems to have succumbed to a den collapse. The rapid entombment created perfect conditions for mummified preservation. A lone Yukon gold miner comes along 57,000 years later and stumbles upon this remarkable discovery, brimming with scientific insights. Caleb, Megan & Jim
"In the summer of 2016, a gold miner in Canada’s Yukon Territory found an unexpected treasure. While blasting a wall of permafrost with a water cannon to release whatever riches might be found inside, Neil Loveless saw something melting out of the ice. It wasn’t a precious mineral, but the oldest and most complete wolf mummy ever discovered.
"Loveless quickly placed the frozen pup in a freezer until paleontologists could have a look. They found that the well-preserved animal was a juvenile female, part of a vanished ecosystem dating to a time when northwestern Canada was home to American mastodons and other Pleistocene megafauna. The local Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people named the 57,000-year-old pup Zhur, meaning 'wolf' in the language of their community.
"Zhur existed at ancient intersections, not just between cold glacial periods, but between populations of wolves that are now separated. By studying the pup’s genes, scientists can gain a greater understanding of her place in the ancient world and what has changed since then. 'Ancient DNA is bringing to life the dynamism of the Late Pleistocene that was mostly invisible from just the bones,' Barnett says."
The preserved pup is helping researchers understand how wolves migrated across Europe, Asia, and North America.