Yukon gold miner discovers a mummified Ice Age wolf puppy

Yukon gold miner discovers a mummified Ice Age wolf puppy
Zoom in / The remains of the puppy have dried up, but mostly thanks to being buried in permanent snow.

This Ice Age wolf puppy does not look like a scary prey, what with her little puppy teeth and soft little ears. However, according to his DNA, the mummy puppy, named Shar, came from one of the ancestors of all modern wolves. The permanent frost of Canada froze shortly after it died 57,000 years ago.

“She’s the most complete wolf mummy ever found. She’s basically 100 percent intact — only her eyes are missing,” said Julie Michen, an archaeologist at the University of Des Moines.

Puppy surprise

In July 2016, Neil Loveless, a miner for Favron Enterprises, was searching for gold in the famous Klondike gold fields in Alaska. He splashed water into the frozen soil on the shores of Lost Sans Creek. This is a process called “hydraulic thawing” that dissolves and softens frozen permafrost so miners can search for gold in streamed deposits, which is called blazer mining. But Loveless Klondike found something more alien and interesting than gold: the frozen, mummified wolf puppy.

“It simply came to our notice then [Loveless] When the shar melted from a permanent freeze, she made sure to keep it in a freezer and then reported the discovery to Yukon Paleontology, ”Meechan and his colleagues wrote in a recent article in the current journal Biology. Studying the Pleistocene wildlife at Yukon meant working with gold mining companies, and its workers may have been the first to discover things like Jor. Scientists like Michen also work very closely with people who have invited the region home for thousands of years, much like the first nation of Trontech Hwach.

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The members of the group gave the puppy the name Jor, which means “wolf” in the Han language. Zor is a culturally significant invention for the Troontac Hwachin, but they were interested in how much they could teach us about frozen puppy Pleistocene wolves. The first country agreed to show the mummy at the Yukon Beringia Demonstration Center in Whitehorse, where he was cleaned, preserved and inspected.

“We are committed to our shared role in preserving and preserving traditional resources in Klondike, in partnership with Trontech Hues,” Michen and his colleagues wrote.

Taking small samples from Jarin’s incredibly well-preserved hair follicles, Michen and his colleagues dated the radiocarbon frozen puppy and read the chemical isotopes on his body, which gave clues about what she ate and the climate in which she lived. They also sequenced her mitochondrial DNA, which transmitted the genetic material directly from mother to offspring.

Ancestors of modern wolves

Jor probably lived 57,000 years ago, but it took three different dating methods to find it.

Only radiocarbon dating Michen and his colleagues can tell that Mommy is over 50,000 years old. The puppy’s gene is said to have lived 75,000 to 56,000 years ago, based on the rate at which wolf DNA collects mutations over time. Oxygen isotopes in the marine body are said to have lived in relatively warm periods of marine isotope level 3, with warmer climates leading to smaller rates of isotope oxygen-18 in the ocean sedimentary core and jor body. MIS3 ranged from 57,000 to 29,000 years ago.

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All of those possible dates overlap at one point: 57,000 to 56,000 years ago. At that time, sea levels were much lower than they are today, and a portion of the arid land known as Beringia connected Siberia and Canada. Animals moved freely back and forth between continents, which is why the Pleistocene wolves found throughout Eurasia and North America are all so closely related. Jarin mitochondrial DNA applies to animals or clades that are closely related to a common ancestor who lived 86,000 to 67,500 years ago.

Jor and his knife are the ancestors of every wolf in the world (except possibly) Tall Himalayan wolves, Which have been doing their own thing for hundreds of thousands of years, according to a study earlier in 2020).

But since mitochondrial DNA is transmitted directly from mother to puppy, Mechan and his colleagues can say that Shore is not the direct ancestor of the wolves that roam the clonde today. Over the past 56,000 years or so, the Clondike wolf population has either died out or left that place, and another group of wolves — something very closely associated with the show — has transformed it. At this time, there is not enough data to say whether the newcomers chased, competed or sucked Jarin’s relatives, but the puppy’s DNA represents an even more interesting story.

Wolves also eat fish

If she could not tell Jar and Meeshan and her colleagues what had happened to the entire population of Clondike wolves, she could have told her own story even a little. Based on how her bones have grown, it is about 7 weeks when the puppy dies. Since modern wolves in the region are usually born in early summer, it means that Shore died in July or early August, while Loveless expelled her permanently after 57,000 years.

By then, Jarin’s mother may have breastfed her cubs and started bringing them real food. Modern wolf puppies begin to eat solid food around 5 or 6 weeks of age. In the case of Jarin, according to the isotope nitrogen-15 levels in her body, it seems to contain a lot of fish. Nitrogen isotopes provide clues as to how far an animal food chain may have been and whether most of its food came from land or water.

Given all the fish, the puppy’s breathing must have been horrible. “Generally, when you think of wolves in the Ice Age, you think of them eating wild or musk oxen or other large animals on the ground,” Michen said. “One thing that surprised us was that he eats aquatic resources, especially salmon.”

Modern wolves in the Alaskan interior are known to bite fish, at least during the seasons when they are readily available. Shurin Cave is not far from the Klundik River today, where the Chinook salmon form today. The fish swim up the Yukon River to the Klondike, where a mother wolf would have been a real buffet looking to feed her cubs.

How to freeze an ice age hunter

Things didn’t end right for the show, or a ridiculously adorable canine ice mummy can’t read today. Her burial can provide some clues about her untimely demise and her good care in the intervening thousands of years. She should have died in perfect condition and should have been buried quickly — this is a rare combination. “The animal must die in a permanent place where it will always be frozen in the ground, and they must be buried as quickly as any other fossil process,” Michen said.

Animals killed by predators do not tend to produce fully preserved snow mummies, and animals that die from disease or exposure are not frozen and buried enough to mummify. Isotopic analysis says the puppy is well-bred, so no matter what happens, she is not sick and certainly not hungry.

Michen and his colleagues think Jarin’s cave has collapsed, kill him immediately, and bury the remains in the frozen ground. “It’s a little nice for us to know that the poor little girl didn’t suffer too much,” Michen said.

There is another question that Shar can never answer, however: why was she alone in the cave? Wolf mothers usually have four to six puppies at a time, but Jor was only buried with Last Chance Creek; No sign of her mother or trash can returned. “She may be the only puppy, or the other wolves were not in the cave during the fall,” Michen said. “Unfortunately, we never knew.”

A warning tail

Permafrost mummies of large mammals, such as mammoths, bears, and wolves, are rare finds for biologists. But smaller ones, such as ground squirrels and ferrets, often appear in places like Siberia and the Yukon. Mechan and his colleagues speculate that animals that lived in burrows or dens, including wolf cubs, may have had better antagonisms to be preserved in permafrost, especially if they died in caves.

Large permafrost mummy inventions are also very common. A The cave bear emerged from the Siberian permafrost Earlier this year, it was one of several recent discoveries. “What’s a small reversal of climate change is that we’re going to see more of these mummies as the permafrost melts,” Michen said. “Science is a great way to reconstruct that time better, but it also shows how hot our planet really is.”

Current Biology, 2020 DOI: 10.1016 / j.cub.2020.11.011 (About DOIs).

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About the Author: Max Grant

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