Massive Head of a Giant 40,000-Year-Old Wolf Excavated in Siberia

A giant Pleistocene wolf's head discovered in Siberia.

The massive head of a 40,000-year-old wolf has been excavated in Siberia. The specimen is extremely well preserved, and scientists say that its fur, fangs, skin and even brain tissue remain nearly intact. How the head was severed remains a mystery.

The massive head of an ancient wolf, preserved since the last ice age has been found in incredible conditions in Siberia, reports the Siberian Times.

A Massive Wolf

In 2018, a man walking along the bank of the Tirekhtyakh River, in Yakutia, came across a discovery like no other: a massive head of a wolf, much larger than any current specimen in existence.

The discovery, however, was kept secret until recently, when the massive head was finally revealed to the international community by a group of scientists.

The wolf’s head was shown to a surprised public during an exhibition on frozen creatures of the Ice Age, including woolly mammoths in Japan.

Scientists revealed the importance of the find saying that it was a unique specimen of the first remains of a fully developed Pleistocene wolf with its preserved tissue.

Scientists will now proceed and compare it with modern wolves to understand how the species has evolved throughout history and try and reconstruct what it may have looked like when it roamed Siberia more than 40,000 years ago.

And despite the fact that figuring out what the wolf may have looked like tens of thousands of years ago is very difficult, the discovery of the massive head will reveal unprecedented details about this long-extinct species.

The wolf's head with is mammoth-like fur and impressive fangs still intact. Image Credit: The Siberian Times.
The wolf’s head with is mammoth-like fur and impressive fangs still intact. Image Credit: The Siberian Times.

A well-preserved specimen

The wolf’s head – whose fur, fangs, skin and even brain tissue remain nearly intact – was found in the same region where experts had come across the frozen remains of cave lions (in 2015 and 2017).

Paleontologist Albert Protopopov of the Academy of Sciences of the Sakha Republic, together with scientists from Sweden and Japan, are now studying the head, which they believe belonged to an adult wolf of two to four years, reveal the Siberian Times.

Their work will include analyzing the DNA of the ancient animal and using non-invasive tomographic techniques to see inside the skull.

According to the paleontologist, finding skulls of wolves in the Siberian permafrost is not unusual, although the massive size of the current object of study exceeds any expectation.

The discovery is of unprecedented importance.

An ancient Siberian treasure

Along with the wolf’s head, scientists are also examining a newly discovered cave lion cub, believed to be a female lion cub.

The researchers suggest that the lion cub may have died shortly after birth.

As for the wolf, it is not known how the head was cut, although in any case, scientists believe it is not a trophy of some type of early hunter since humans most likely began to arrive in this northern part of the country around 32,500 years ago.

How the head was severed remains an enigma which scientists are eager to understand.

The Siberian Times