57,000 years ago a wolf-puppy died instantaneously after her den collapsed on her in Yukon, Canada. Now, Des Moines University is sharing the findings of the perfectly preserved mummified carcass.
“She’s the most complete wolf mummy that’s ever been found. She’s basically 100 percent intact – all that’s missing are her eyes,” Julie Meachen, Ph.D., an associated professor of anatomy at Des Moines University said in a statement. “And the fact that she’s so complete allowed us to do so many lines of inquiry on her to basically reconstruct her life.”
Thawing permafrost in Canada’s Yukon revealed a mummified wolf puppy, one of the best specimens ever found https://t.co/tuuiKdQYCf
— NYT Climate (@nytclimate) December 21, 2020
The mummified wolf puppy was found along the Last Chance Creek and is named Zhùr which means ‘wolf’ in the Hän language of the local community, according to Current Biology where the findings appeared.
“It’s rare to find these mummies in the Yukon. The animal has to die in a permafrost location, where the ground is frozen all the time, and they have to get buried very quickly, like any other fossilization process,” Meachen said in an official statement. “If it lays out on the frozen tundra too long it’ll decompose or get eaten.” (RELATED: 1000-Year-Old Mummy Died Of Constipation After Grasshopper Diet, Scientists Say)
Meachen and her research team took X-rays of Zhùr and analyzed samples of her fur and tooth enamel. The team was able to determine that Zhùr was likely between 6-8 weeks old at the time of her death based on the fact that some of her bones had not yet fully developed. The team also found that unlike other wolves, Zhùr seemed to be fond of fish.
“Normally when you think of wolves in the Ice Age, you think of them eating bison or musk oxen or other large animals on land. One thing that surprised us was that she was eating aquatic resources, particularly salmon,” Meachen said in a statement.
Zhùr’s is reported to have descended from ancient Russian, Siberian and Alaskan wolves. However, researchers still have questions that may never be answered, such as why Zhùr was the only wolf found in the den and what happened to her siblings.