As permafrost melts, it occasionally reveals Ice Age treasures like this enormous head of a Pleistocene wolf in northern Siberia. It was discovered by a local last summer and has spent the past year being extensively studied by excited researchers. The fur, large teeth, and internal soft tissues are remarkably well-preserved.

The head is astonishing in scale, especially compared to modern wolves. It’s 15.7 inches long, nearly a full six inches longer than the average wolf today. That means the head of this ancient predator is half the length of a modern wolf’s body.

“This is a unique discovery of the first-ever remains of a fully grown Pleistocene wolf with its tissue preserved. We will be comparing it to modern-day wolves to understand how the species has evolved and to reconstruct its appearance,” Albert Protopopov, of the Republic of Sakha Academy of Sciences, told the Siberian Times.

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Researchers don’t think it’s a dire wolf, despite the huge size, as those wolves weren’t thought to venture so far north. But until the DNA is sequenced, nobody really knows for sure.

Note: Initial reports have called the wolf 40,000 years old, but subsequent reports have corrected that figure to 30,000 years old. Photo, top: Albert Protopopov.


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