Scientists Find 18,000-Year-Old Frozen Puppy

The frozen pup could provide a clue as to when dogs were domesticated

A frozen 18,000-year-old puppy was uncovered in Russia.
A frozen 18,000-year-old puppy was uncovered in Russia.
By Bonnie Stiernberg / November 28, 2019 6:27 am

A nearly perfectly preserved body of a puppy that is estimated to be 18,000 years old has been uncovered in eastern Siberia, and scientists are unsure whether it’s a dog or a wolf.

“It’s normally relatively easy to tell the difference between the two,” David Stanton, a researcher at the Centre for Palaeogenetics, told CNN. “We have a lot of data from it already, and with that amount of data, you’d expect to tell if it was one or the other. The fact that we can’t might suggest that it’s from a population that was ancestral to both — to dogs and wolves.”
Scientists used carbon dating on the puppy’s rib bone to determine it had been frozen in permafrost for 18,000 years, and for being so old, its fur and teeth remain remarkably intact.

“We don’t know exactly when dogs were domesticated, but it may have been from about that time. We are interested in whether it is in fact a dog or a wolf, or perhaps it’s something halfway between the two,” Stanton said, adding that further testing could provide insight into when exactly dogs were domesticated. A 2016 study by the University of Oxford suggested that dogs were domesticated from wolves during the Paleolithic era.

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