Rare, mummified Ice Age wolf pup and caribou unearthed in Canada

The wolf pup remains discovered near Dawson, Yukon. The specimen is complete, with head, tail, coat and skin intact.

(Government of Yukon)

Two amazingly well-preserved ice age mammals were excavated by prospectors in the northwest of Canada and unveiled in a ceremony on Thursday.

A wolf pup and a caribou calf were found by the miners in the Yukon territory in 2016 in the area melting permaforst.

It is exceedlingly rare for fur, skin and muscle tissue to be preserved in the fossil record, but all three are present on these specimens, which radiocarbon-dating back more than 50,000 years old, reports the Guardian.

The wolf pup is said to be preserved in its entirety, including exceptional detail of the head, the tail, the legs, the skin and the hair, while the caribou calf is partially preserved, with a head, torso and two front limbs intact.

“As far as we know, this is the only mummified ice age wolf ever found in the world,” Grant Zazula, a local paleontologist working with the Yukon government, told the British publication.

Julie Meachen, a carnivore morphologist who works with Ice Age mammals in Des Moines University and will soon be to do research on the wolf pup, told the Guardian: “When Grant sent me the photos and asked me to participate I was really excited. I was kind of next to me.

“We want to be a old DNA test to see who is related to, and look to the microbiome to see whether intestinal bacteria are still there,” said Meachen.

The mummified remains of the caribou.

(Government of Yukon)

Other researchers around the world responded with a similar voltage to the discovery of this ancient predator and its prey, which are well enough preserved to allow for future examination of factors such as cause of death, diet, health, age and heredity.

Elsa Panciroli, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Ice Age wolf bones are relatively common in the Yukon, but have an animal preserved with the skin and the fur is only in exceptional cases is that you want to reach and stroke. It is an evocative glimpse into the Ice Age world.”

Christopher Carbone is a reporter and news editor covering science and technology for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @christocarbone.

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