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  • Writer's pictureJason Capp

Near-Perfectly Preserved Puppy Could Be a Huge Breakthrough

An 18,000-year-old puppy that was found frozen in mud and in shockingly near-perfect condition could possibly be an evolutionary missing link.

An 18,000-year-old puppy that was frozen and buried was found by scientists last year but only recently revealed to the public. It is a remarkable discovery, because the animal could be one of two things; a dog or a wolf. The pup was discovered about 18 months ago, preserved in a layer of permafrost in Siberia’s Far Eastern reaches, according to Dave Stanton, a researcher at the Center for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm and one of the scientists who was in charge of examining its DNA, which allowed them to confirm the pup's sex as male.

The amount of preservation is astounding! Not only are the puppy's teeth still intact, but the fur in most places and his snout are in unbelievable shape. Stanton said that we need to put this information into context. Most scientists agree that dogs evolved around 15,000 years ago from a species of extinct wolves. It is believed that these wolves evolved after many years of exposure to humans, and that the link between these species might exist somewhere inside this frozen puppy, which was cutely named “Dogor,” meaning “friend” in Yakutian.

This little guy was found by locals near Yakutsk, Russia, which is located about 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of the Arctic Circle. Since it was found, scientists began studying him at North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk. Nikolai Androsov, director of the Northern World Museum where the remains are to be kept, presented the discovery on December 2, 2019, according to The Associated Press.

Little Dogor is not the first potentially extinct animal found within the permafrost, though. It was just a few years ago when a well preserved Yukagir bison was unfrozen, and Yuka mammoth remains were discovered in 2009.

A major thing to consider in this story is that modern dogs are not like modern wolves. Wolves are quite reserved and do not eat in front of people, while dogs beg for food and eat anywhere unashamedly. Male wolves also participate in pup raising heavily while male dogs generally avoid the responsibility. And it is not only their psychology, but certain physical attributes are also quite different, like the shape of their skulls and the size of their snouts.

The possibility of the newly discovered pup being some kind of evolutionary missing link between wolves and dogs still remains, but more evidence may reveal this in the future. Researchers at the Centre for Palaeogenetics are planning to do more tests on the pup in hopes to fully reveal its genetic code and get a better handle on which species it might have belonged to.

What will this mean for us as we move forward? Only time and research will tell.

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