Scientists are poised to learn a lot more about prehistoric man's best friend after discovering a shockingly well-preserved 12,400-year-old puppy in Siberia, the Telegraph reports. The mummified Pleistocene canid—almost certainly an extinct species—is believed to have been killed by a landslide near the village of Tumat, according to Science Alert. A member of the research team studying the puppy says it was "preserved from nose to tail, including the hair." But an autopsy conducted after washing "thousands of years of mud and dirt" off the Tumat Puppy at the Geological Institute in Moscow revealed an even more surprising degree of preservation: The canid's brain is still 70% to 80% intact, Discovery reports.
Scientists, who've never before been able to study such a well-preserved specimen, are hoping to find ancient bacteria in the puppy's stomach and learn about ancient parasites from the ticks in its fur. But Hwang Woo-Suk, who the Telegraph describes as a "controversial Korean scientist," wants to go even further. Hwang, who's building a cloning facility in China, took samples of the Tumat puppy's muscle, skin, and cartilage in the hopes of bringing back the extinct species. "He was very excited," Science Alert quotes a member of the research team as saying. Archaeology reports that researchers believe the Tumat puppy was once someone's pet, as tools, evidence of a fire, and the remains of butchered animals were found nearby. (Read more puppy stories.)