Ancient mummies signify the existence of life back in time. Not only scientists but many are usually awed by such findings. Most skeletons generally belong to old birds, fierce reptiles like dinosaurs, sea urchins, etc. It is unfortunate that such organisms no longer exist. Possibly because natural calamities or anthropogenic activities wiped them out. This article looks into an ancient mummy of a wolf cub, discovered recently.
Miner Unearths Mummified Wolf Cub
In 2016, a gold miner uncovered a wolf cub hidden in the permafrost near Dawson city, in Yukon, Canada. The wolf was perfectly preserved underneath the thawing permafrost, as most of its features were intact. It sure provided scientists legible information in finding its life and ancestry. The miner handed the mummy to paleontologists at Des Moines University, who immediately started analyzing it. Julie Meachen was leading the team behind the analysis.
Meachen remarked that she had never seen such a well-preserved mummy. It was her first time, and she was head over heels to work on it.
“I’ve never seen such a well-preserved mummy before,” says Meachen.
“I was over the moon and so excited when I was asked to work on it.”
What Did They Discover About the Mummy?
After thorough archeological research, the scientists learned that the wolf pup had lived for approximately 57000 years. Its fur, body organs, and bones were all conserved. It was a female species and weighed about 700 grams. They dabbed her Zhur, which meant a wolf. The findings also revealed that Zhur might have been seven weeks old when she succumbed. Usually, that is the same age most modern wolves start to become independent. I.e., they start looking out for themselves other than relying on their mothers.
How Did They Conduct the Research?
With carbon dating and DNA analysis, the researchers discovered that the wolf pup lived 57000 years ago amid the last glacial period, at a time when polar ice caps and sheets spread to the earth’s surface. Probably it was then that the ice concealed the dead wolf, preserving it for all those years.
According to Meachen, during the last glacial period, wolves would feed on musk oxen or caribou. However, for the case with Zhur, the analysis revealed that her diet consisted of fish, more so the salmon fish. Therefore the scientists concluded that the pup and mother mostly preyed on fish in the rivers when they were still alive.
A more in-depth analysis unveiled that Zhur’s genome was of the same ancestry as the modern grey wolves, scientifically called Canis lupus. Liisa Loog, an analyst, stated that wolves similar to Zhur happened to dominate in Eurasia and the Americas. As it appears they have replaced the local wolf populations which once existed there.
Meachen states that Zhur’s death is a mystery to them, for there is no evidence linked to it. There is nothing on starvation or even physical damage to her body. Nevertheless, they assume that she might have been trapped underneath masses of moving glaciers. Meanwhile, such discoveries provide excellent resources for studying the past. And they are only made possible by the permafrost, which is melting because of global warming. In a way, I might conclude global warming is a blessing in disguise.