The remains of a 12,400 year old puppy have been found in permafrost in Siberia.
This has given scientists and important and fascinating opportunity to examine a well-preserved Pleistocene canid for the first time.
The puppy is thought to be the sibling of another whose remains were found in 2011.
It is believed the creature was killed in a landslide, and then became mummified.
The previous kind was in a more advanced state of decay, but the latest discovery has been described by Sergey Fedorov of the North-East Federal University as “preserved from nose to tail, including the hair.”
Interestingly, an MRI scan found the brain was 70 to 80 per cent intact.
Speaking to the Siberian Times, Dr. Pavel Nikolsky, research fellow of the Geological Institute in Moscow, said that the brain “has dried out somewhat, but the parencephalon, cerebellum and pituitary gland are visible. We can say that this is the first time we have obtained the brain of a Pleistocene canid.”
As well as examining the brain, the scientists hope to look at the bacteria in its digestive system and the parasitic ticks in its fur in order to learn more about the diversity of life in Siberia during the Pleistocene – a geological epoch spanning the repeated glaciations known as the last Ice Age.
DNA analysis has revealed the animal to be a dog rather than a wolf.
The mummified canine was found on the banks of the River Syalakh in the Sakha Republic.
The discovery of stone tools nearby suggests human activity nearby, leading researchers to speculate that the puppy may have been a pet.
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Controversial Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk, who wants to clone a number of extinct animals, attended the discovery.
He took samples of the dog's skin, muscle and cartilage, and said he was very excited about the level of preservation.
The scientist has added the dog to the list of animals he wants to clone, which includes wooly mammoths and cave lions.
Source: The Telegraph