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Amazingly preserved puppy with whiskers, eyelashes, hair and velvety nose intact puzzle scientists

By Anna Lisowska, Svetlana Skarbo
25 November 2019

DNA tests on the 18,000-year-old Siberian canine cannot define if it's a wolf or a dog.

'It's 18k years old! So far, we have sequenced it's genome to 2X coverage. But we still can't say if it's a wolf or a dog. Maybe it's the common ancestor? More sequencing needed! Picture: Sergey Fedorov 

The male puppy with its arrow-head milky teeth was less than two months old when it died. 

It was found in summer 2018 inside a lump of a frozen ground near Indigirka River, north-east of Yakutsk, its full body, muzzle, and even whiskers and eyelashes preserved by permafrost.

The reason for the puppy’s death has not been determined yet, although its position did not suggest distress, unlike of the earlier discovered Tumat puppies.

Initial genome sequencing carried by Swedish Centre for Palaeogenetics (CPG) surprised researchers in that it failed to define if the 18,000 year old puppy was a wolf or a dog. 

‘Love Dalén, professor of Evolutionary Genetics, said that usually first DNA tests make it clear if this is a wolf or a dog.

'The Centre has the Europe’s largest DNA bank of all canines from around the globe, yet in this case they couldn’t identify it from the first try.

'This is intriguing, what if it’s a dog? We can’t wait to get results from further tests’, said Sergey Fedorov from the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North, part of the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk who took these stunning pictures. 

Amazingly preserved puppy with its whiskers, eyelashes, hair and velvety nose intact puzzle scientists 


Amazingly preserved puppy with its whiskers, eyelashes, hair and velvety nose intact puzzle scientists 


Amazingly preserved puppy with its whiskers, eyelashes, hair and velvety nose intact puzzle scientists 


Amazingly preserved puppy with its whiskers, eyelashes, hair and velvety nose intact puzzle scientists 

Amazingly preserved puppy with its whiskers, eyelashes, hair and velvety nose intact puzzle scientists. Pictures: Sergey Fedorov


Fedorov's words echoed the excited tweet by the Swedish scientists who said: ‘Dave Stanton* is working on this specimen together with Pontus Skoglund**. 

‘It's 18k years old! So far, we have sequenced it's genome to 2X coverage. But we still can't say if it's a wolf or a dog. Maybe it's the common ancestor? More sequencing needed!’ 

The assumption is that this can be a puppy of either a wolf, a dog, or the so-called wolfdog/early dog, a transitional stage from a wolf to a dog.

The puppy was christened Dogor which in Yakut means ‘Friend’ but in English plays beautifully into a question of what is it, a Dog or…..?

Amazingly preserved puppy with its whiskers, eyelashes, hair and velvety nose intact puzzle scientists 


Amazingly preserved puppy with its whiskers, eyelashes, hair and velvety nose intact puzzle scientists 


Amazingly preserved puppy with its whiskers, eyelashes, hair and velvety nose intact puzzle scientists 

The earlier-discovered Tumat puppies in Yakutia. Pictures: North-Eastern Federal University, The Siberian Times


*Dave Stanton is from Department of Bioinformatics and Genetics, Swedish Museum of Natural History.

**Pontus Skoglund (born 3 March 1984) is a Swedish population geneticist, currently at the Francis Crick Institute and formerly at Harvard Medical School. 

Gray wolves and dogs diverged from an extinct wolf species some 15,000 to 40,000 years ago.

Last summer, research reported in Nature Communications pushed likely dates for domestication further back into the past, suggesting that dogs were domesticated just once at least 20,000 but likely closer to 40,000 years ago.

Comments (11)

This little 18,000 year old puppy is fascinating! The permafrost that preserved it gave us a great gift: a little body that might be a crossover between wolves and dogs. His bodily features are so delicate, right down to eyelashes, whiskers, and velvet-like nose, yet his thick fur would have kept him warm during nasty winters and his big paws would have gotten him through the deep snows of what must have been a challenging environment. I'm sorry he didn't get to live his life.
Terry S., Portland USA
12/12/2019 12:30
0
0
Cool I hope it is a wolfhusky.i love wolfs and huskys.but a wolfhusky even better.
Trinity sheltra, Indian Town FL
06/12/2019 07:02
0
0
Remarkable!! How exciting that this pup was found in the region of Yakutia! My son was born in Yakutsk. What a great thing to share with him about his home region.
Anita Tomany, Fairbanks, Alaska
03/12/2019 03:41
2
1
Estou muito feliz pela descoberta desse cachorrinho. Mas o que me intriga são seus caninos tão grandes para um cachorro de meses de vida....mas parabéns pela descoberta obrigado
Anderson Vedovato, Hortolândia , Brasil
02/12/2019 15:59
1
1
@Jonas, they were two of them, second one calls himself Jeremy.

Try to be famous too.
Solventflush, France
01/12/2019 16:37
1
1
Jonas, don't insult Neandethals like that
Carol, Carson Cty Nevada US
01/12/2019 04:25
5
2
What a rare find! The puppy is as if sleeping ...
I think that this is a common ancestor of the dog and the wolf.
Vladimir Z, Moscow, Russia
29/11/2019 17:02
3
1
A neanderthal did come out of the permafrost. The amazing thing is that he got elected as President of the US
Jonas Bigod, London UK
28/11/2019 21:04
41
36
I think is so awesome:) It is so amazing:) I don't have much to say. But is so awesome.
Virginia Knotts, Charles Town,united states
28/11/2019 04:02
6
2
@Frank Farkel
Indeed, only a matter of time, although more likely paleolithic homo sapiens in these permafrost deposits - I believe Neanderthals are thought to have died out 40000 years ago. Either way that's going to be an incredible find!
andrew woodward, Dartmoor UK
28/11/2019 00:55
6
2
remarkable. I am awaiting the discovery of a neanderthal human to come out of the permafrost, I hope everyone is aware this may soon happen.
Frank Farkel, USA city of Angels
27/11/2019 11:38
7
2
1

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