Alongside a River, a Most Fascinating Severed Head

It belongs to a 40K-year-old wolf
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2019 8:37 AM CDT
Alongside a River, a Most Fascinating Severed Head
The severed head.   (Albert Protopopov)

That rare case when finding a severed head is more fascinating than gruesome: when it belongs to a 40,000-year-old wolf and still has its fur and teeth. That's apparently the case in eastern Siberia, where a man came across the remains along the Tirekhtyakh River in Yakutia last summer. He turned it over to the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha, and Japanese and Russian scientists announced the find last week, reports the Asahi Shimbun. Albert Protopopov, the head of the mammoth studies department at the academy, tells CNN that to date only frozen wolf cubs have been found.

Indeed, the Siberian Times calls the 16-inch-long head that of "the world’s first full-sized Pleistocene wolf" and says it was between the ages of 2 and 4 and fully grown at the time of its death. "The number of discoveries is growing because of the thaw of the permafrost," Protopopov said, but researchers aren't done with this one. Swedish scientists are digging into the wolf's DNA, and others are constructing a digital model of the brain. (Climate change could alter Siberia in another way.)

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