Scientists Are Baffled By An 18,000-Year-Old ‘Wolf-Dog’ Puppy Found Frozen In Siberia

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An 18,000-year-old “wolf-dog” puppy was found frozen in Siberia, which has scientists stumped.

Puppy Frozen in Permafrost for 8,000 Years Is a Puzzle for Scientists

An amazing find has been made in the tundra of Siberia: a puppy that is 18,000 years old and whose name means “friend” in the Yakut language. People in the area found the bones of this prehistoric dog near the Indigirka River in the summer of 2018. Genetic tests showed that Dogor is not just a wolf or a normal dog, which has confused researchers. He could just be a mysterious ancestor who connects these two well-known species at this point.

Image credits: Sergey Fedorov


Permafrost’s unwavering support made it possible for all of Dogor’s body parts to have been preserved so well, including his full body, luxurious hair, muzzle, whiskers, and even eyelashes. Researchers at Sweden’s Center for Palaeogenetics took advantage of this one-of-a-kind chance to get DNA from a piece of the pup’s rib bone and sequence it. Even after a lot of careful research, the team couldn’t answer a deep question: was Dogor a dog, a wolf, or maybe a mysterious mix of the two?

David Stanton, a study fellow at the Center for Palaeogenetics, told CNN about the problem: “It’s usually pretty easy to tell the difference between the two.” We already have a lot of information from it, which should let us tell the difference between the two. The fact that we can’t could mean that it comes from a group of people who were related to both dogs and wolves.


Image credits: Sergey Fedorov

It’s interesting that Dogor’s unclear identity might have its roots in the time when dogs were first tamed. Stanton thinks that this amazing puppy lives in a very important time in the history of dogs. A time when the number of extinct wolf species was dropping and the first dogs were just beginning to take shape. As the timeline goes backwards and then converges, it gets harder to tell the difference between the two.

It’s still not clear what happened when dogs and wolves started to become different. There is agreement among scientists that modern dogs and gray wolves share a similar ancestor that lived between 15,000 and 40,000 years ago. However, there are still many questions about how dogs went from being wild animals to being pets. Geographically, the question of where this change began has its own talks. Possible starting points have been found in Mongolia, China, and Europe.

Image credits: Sergey Fedorov

Different theories also explain this close link between humans and animals. Some theories say that people actively tamed wolf pups and trained them to be dog friends. Instead, one idea says that some naturally less aggressive wolves decided to live close to people and built a peaceful relationship with them over time.

In this confusing picture, Dogor’s ancient DNA stands out as a ray of hope, offering clues that could help solve the puzzles of dog evolution. The researchers are going to do a third round of DNA tests, which might help them figure out where Dogor fits in the complicated family tree of dogs.

Image credits: Sergey Fedorov

As we think about Dogor’s mysterious trip, a bigger story starts to emerge: how climate change is affecting the frozen artifacts in Siberia. Warming temperatures are pushing permafrost closer together, which means that more ancient people will likely be freed from their icy graves. This will give us a chance to see the past in ways we never thought possible.

Image credits: Sergey Fedorov

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