The well preserved remains of a 12,400-year-old puppy have been unearthed in Tumat in the Sakha Republic of Russia.
The Siberian Times reports that the extinct Pleistocene canid species was found close to evidence of human activity, causing researchers to suspect it may have been a pet.
The thawed creature had to have thousands of years of mud and dirt washed away before an autopsy could be performed by Moscow's Geological Institute:
Of particular interest to the researchers is the long-lost animal’s brain, which looks to be in excellent shape — about 70 to 80 percent preserved, they said.
“We will be able to say more precisely after it is extracted,” Moscow researcher Pavel Nikolsky told the Times. “For now we can see it on MRI scans. Of course, it has dried out somewhat, but the parencephalon, cerebellum and pituitary gland are visible. We can say that this is the first time we have obtained the brain of a Pleistocene canid.”
In an interesting sub-plot to the find, there is already talk of cloning the pleistocene pet.
Present for the autopsy was South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk, who was collecting samples for a potential cloning of the puppy. Woo-Suk is known for his ambition to clone woolly mammoths and, recently, an extinct cave lion. He’s also building an animal cloning facility in China and has held a dog-cloning competition in the United Kingdom.
Woo-Suk took skin, muscle and ear cartilage samples and was said to be optimistic about the level of preservation of the ancient pup.
Scientists also hope to extract samples of ancient bacteria from the puppy's intestines as well as any parasites that may have been specific to its species.
Hat Tip: The Mirror.