Giant Ice Age Wolf Head Found Perfectly Preserved In Russia

Scientists have uncovered the head of a wolf, more than 40,000 years old, found in permafrost on the shore of a river

The wolf's head was found on the shore of a river in the Yakutia region by a local man in the summer of 2018.

The fur, soft tissue and brain had been perfectly preserved in the permafrost -- making the severed head a completely unique discovery.

Scientists presented the remarkable discovery at a conference in Tokyo, alongside a well-preserved cave lion cub nicknamed Spartak, at the opening of a woolly mammoth exhibition.

The Pleistocene wolf's head. Source: Albert Protopopov/Siberian Times.

Professor Naoki Suzuki, paleontologist and researcher from the Jikei University School of Medicine, presented CT scans of the wolf's head and the cub's body, stating the "muscles, organs and brains" of each are in good condition.

The specimens will be compared to modern lions and wolves to understand their "physical capabilities and ecology", Suzuki said.

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A modern grey wolf has a head length of up to 27 centimetres on average -- but this ice age specimen was a giant, with a head length of 40 centimetres.

It's believed the wolf was two to four years old when it died.

There were several species of ancient wolf that thrived during the Ice Age, otherwise known as the Pleistocene period. These massive animals would hunt large game including bison, camels, and horses.

The Pleistocene wolf's head. Source: Albert Protopopov/Siberian Times.

Beringian wolves were a close relative of the modern grey wolf, but there were also dire wolves.

Yes, they existed outside of the Game of Thrones universe.

The Swedish Museum of Natural History will now extract the DNA from the specimen, according to the Siberian Times, and the genetic information will help to build a picture of ancient wolves.

If the specimen is a dire wolf, it will be the northernmost instance of the animal, which was not thought to roam beyond a 55 degree latitude.