The head of the first full-sized Pleistocene wolf has been discovered in eastern Siberia – and it’s still intact.
The creature, which scientists estimate to be 30,000 or 40,000 years old, was preserved in permafrost, the Siberian Times reported. Scientists believe the wolf was fully grown at 2 to 4 years old when it died, according to the Times.
A photo of the head shows it measures 15.7 inches long, which is notably bigger than the 9.1-to-11-inch length of the modern gray wolf’s head.
Although a man who lives in the Abyisky district of Yakutia discovered the head on the shore of a river last year, the Times reported that the find was only recently announced at the opening of a woolly mammoth exhibit in Tokyo.
The Swedish Museum of Natural History plans to study the wolf’s DNA, the Times reported. Scientists also are creating a digital model of the brain and the skull’s interior, Albert Protopopov, of the Republic of Sakha Academy of Sciences, told CNN.
“We will be comparing it to modern-day wolves to understand how the species has evolved and to reconstruct its appearance,” Protopopov told the Siberian Times.
The Pleistocene Epoch stretched from 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago and included the most recent ice age of global cooling. Large land mammals and birds, including mammoths, long-horned bison and saber-toothed cats, were prevalent.