Monday, May 08, 2017

Ice Age Puppies Discovered

Siberian hunters looking for mammoth tusks found, instead, two ice age puppies along a steep riverbank in Russia's far northeast region of Yakutia. The puppies date from 12,460 years ago, and are among the "oldest carnivorous mammals ever found intact with skin, fur and internal organs. The two puppies have been named the Tumat Dogs, after the nearest village to the remote site. Because butchered mammoths were also found at the dig, it's believed these may be early dogs, but it remains to be seen if these were domesticated or wild canines.

Evolutionary biologist Greger Larson of the University of Oxford notes that, "Thus far, the lineages of wolves that likely gave rise to dogs has not yet been discovered and it's possible that these puppies could be on that lineage, which would be very exciting."

The brain of one puppy is well preserved, while the stomach of the other was mostly full of twigs and grass, which has scientists wondering whether the animals were not exclusively carnivorous or whether they started eating grass after they were trapped by a mudslide and began to starve. In fact, about 15 percent of the food eaten by many carnivores (wolves, coyote, big cats) is plant material of some kind.


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