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

The discovery was revealed by scientists earlier this week.
The discovery was revealed by scientists earlier this week. Photo credit: Albert Protopopov.

A preserved 40,000-year-old severed head of an adult wolf has been revealed by Russian scientists.

The intact head is said to have belonged to a species of wolf from the Ice Age, which existed during the Pleistocene era, the Siberian Times reports. 

Albert Protopopov from the Republic of Sakha Academy of Sciences says this is a unique discovery "of the first ever remains of a fully grown Pleistocene wolf with its tissue preserved."

The 40-centimetre head of the prehistoric predator was unearthed in Russia's Sakha Republic (also known as Yakutia) in Siberia. The Siberian Times reports it was originally discovered by a local man last year.

Said to be aged between two and four when it died, the wolf's head is still covered in thick fur and sports a set of fangs. It's brain is also said to be fully preserved.

Japanese scientists who assessed the remains have said the wolf lived over 40,000 years ago.

The Siberian Times says the wolf's DNA will now be examined by scientists at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm.

The discovery of the preserved head was announced in Tokyo, Japan, at a woolly mammoth exhibition organised by Japanese and Russian scientists.

A professor of palaeontology and medicine at the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo told the Times: "Their muscles, organs and brains are in good condition."

Scientists will compare the remains to modern wolves to better understand their evolution. They hope to reconstruct the appearance of Pleistocene species.

A near-pristine preservation of a Siberian cave lion cub has also been presented alongside the wolf remains.