By Tim Binnall
A Siberian man searching for mammoth tusks amid melting permafrost was taken aback when he stumbled upon the severed head of a wolf that turned out to be 40,000 years old. The remarkable find was reportedly made last year as Pavel Efimov walked along the shore of a river in the district of Yakutia. He subsequently turned it over to scientists, who kept the discovery under wraps until they unveiled it this week at an event in Tokyo.
According to experts who examined the remarkable remains, the wolf likely roamed the Earth during the Pleistocene era and was considerably bigger than its modern-day counterparts that reside in the region today. The head of the animal, alone, they say measures 16 inches, which is around half the size of a modern gray wolf's whole body. Scientists were particularly excited about the discovery because of its well-preserved nature. To that end, not only were the animal's teeth and fur still intact, but so was its brain.
As to how or why the wolf's head wound up being severed from its body, experts postulated that the ancient decapitation was probably not the work of human hands, because the region where it was found was not settled by people until a period long after the event likely took place. Despite only having the head to work with, scientists hope to reconstruct the complete creature for some kind of display in the future while also studying the DNA of the ancient wolf to gain new insights into the long-departed canines which once called Siberia home.