40,000-year-old Ice Age wolf head found in Siberia

The first intact head of an adult Pleistocene wolf was found by a group looking for woolly mammoth tusks in Siberia

The first intact head of an adult Pleistocene wolf was found by a group looking for woolly mammoth tusks in Siberia

A severed head of a wolf estimated to have died between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago was discovered in Eastern Siberia last year, giving scientists a rare opportunity to analyze wolf genealogy and evolution.

According to the Siberian Times, the head was found by a local resident, Pavel Efimov, in 2018, though photos were not released until now. Specimens have been emerging ever more frequently as climate change gradually thaws the permafrost.

Unsure if it was thousands of years old or just a few hundred, he passed a sample to the Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, where the head was found to date to 40 millennia ago.

Albert Protopopov, director of the department, told CNN that while frozen wolf cubs had been unearthed in the past, the discovery of an adult wolf's head was novel. It was also discovered the wolf was between two and four years old when it died.

Both the Swedish and Japanese facilities will continue to study the DNA and internal anatomy of the head, which includes a fully preserved brain.

'We want to assess their physical capabilities and ecology by comparing them with the lions and wolves of today'.

It was found by mammoth tusk hunters in Siberia's Verkhoyansk region.

The discovery of the wolf was announced in Tokyo at an exhibition of remains of frozen beasts including woolly mammoths.

Remarkable: Russian scientist Dr Albert Protopopov said: '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'. Scientists hope to clone the unusually well-preserved foal.