What can an Ice Age wolf head reveal about wolves today?

The Pleistocene wolf head measured 40 centimeters — much larger than the heads of today’s wolves.
©Albert Protopopov

What can a severed wolf head from the Pleistocene tell us about wolves today? A local man in Siberia reportedly discovered the head last summer and pulled it from the permafrost. It was a remarkably well-preserved artifact from more than 30,000 years ago, with hair and tissue still intact. “It looks like it died yesterday!” Julie Meachen, a vertebrate paleontologist and an associate professor at Des Moines University, told Gizmodo. “We’ve never seen an Ice Age wolf in the flesh before and this is a huge specimen.” The head measured 40 centimeters – about 50 percent larger than a modern wolf’s head. The Swedish Museum of Natural History hopes to extract DNA from the specimen. “It will hopefully be possible to obtain high-quality DNA to examine the animal’s genome, and compare both its genomic profile and anatomy with that of modern wolves from Siberia and beyond,” Astrid Vik Stronen, an ecologist from the Department of Biotechnology and Life Sciences at Insubria University, told Gizmodo.

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