Archeologist have yet again made new discoveries of some very fascinating frozen remains in Canada’s Yukon region permafrost that provides a remarkable inside look for researchers into the Ice Age era. The last known glacial period on record began about a hundred thousand years go.
Permafrost is able to preserve nearly anything including DNA. Ancient genes can be easily extracted from bones and soft tissue that are left behind, and scientists have even found intact genetic material in soil samples.
With a little research, archeologist are able to find out all sort of data that allows us to understand the past such as how these animals lived and the causes behind their death. Miners and the First Nations people of Yukon have been able to in recent times uncover many ice age relics, gargantuan bones, and other useful remains that provide all sorts of information.
According to the Smithsonian, strides continue to be constantly made towards archeology. “Klondike Gold Rush at the turn of the 20th century, miners have uncovered many gargantuan bones—Ice Age relics that continue to be found en masse at mines and river banks today. As climate change advances, permafrost is also thawing rapidly and releasing its contents—a gold rush of sorts for paleontologists.”
Near-Perfectly Preserved Wolf Pup
Scientific name: Canis lupus
Miners have found a special and unique mummified frozen wolf pup. She has been named Zhùr and lived around fifty-seven thousand years ago, Miners found her in Canada’s sparsely populated Yukon territory, where permafrost has preserved remarkable paleontological finds in recent years.
“She’s the most complete wolf mummy that’s ever been found. She’s basically 100% intact—all that’s missing are her eyes,” study coauthor Julie Meachen, a paleontologist at Des Moines University in Iowa, said in a press release.
Zhùr is near-perfectly preserved female gray wolf puppy who is estimated to have been about seven weeks old when she died most likely due to an unexpected den collapse. There is no indication she died of starvation, predator attack, or disease. The mummified wolf is in perfect condition.
Mummified remains of ancient animals in North America are incredibly rare. Studying this complete wolf pup allows scientist to reconstruct how this wolf lived during the Ice Age in ways that would not be possible by looking at fossil bones alone due to its flawless pristine preservation.
Western Camel Bones
Scientific name: Camelops hesternus
Gold Miners near the Alaskan border in Yukon, discovered a pile of Ice Age-era bones that date back to a hundred-twenty thousand years. A few of the extraordinary specimens turned out to be several leg bones belonging to an extinct camel species whose remains are rarely found in the northern area.
Researchers were later able to extract DNA to learn more information about the camel. The genetic data shows scientist that Ice Age western camels split off from modern-day camels around ten million years ago and these types of camels were extremely rare. This is not what was previously thought.
The Arctic’s western camels likely traveled north from their typical range during a warmer period about a hundred-thousand years ago before going extinct. The bones rearranged the family tree by providing concrete evidence that the animals were closely related to modern camels.
“For many decades, scientists hypothesized Arctic-dwelling camels were more closely related to llamas and alpacas native to South America because C. hesternus bones resembled a “giant llama” or “llamas on steroids,” says paleontologist Grant Zazula, who has worked in the Yukon territory for years and been directly involved in all the research happening with these amazing findings.
Arctic Hyena Teeth
Scientific name: Chasmaporthetes
A fossilized pair of teeth currently located in the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa were suspected for several years to be evidence of hyenas living in the ancient Arctic. A formal confirmation was made in 2019.
The teeth fossils were found in a riverbed in 1970 and not in their original resting place, which has made it difficult to date them precisely, but archeologist estimate that teeth belonged to Hyenas roaming North America about eight-hundred and fifty-thousand to one-million years ago.
When one thinks of Hyenas, I am sure they picture large stouts and scrappy scavengers that can be found living in African savannas; however, these ones had some very unique taller legs which made the much more capable and faster at running long distance. They also had larger mouths with choppers perfectly suited for crushing the bones of its prey, which were probably ancient caribou, young bison and quite possibly baby wooly mammoths.
“There have been over 50,000 bones of ice-age animals found in the Old Crow area in the past, and we only have two bones or two teeth of this hyena,” Researcher and paleontologist Grant Zazula told the CBC in a statement about the hyena teeth bones. “So it’s a very rare animal. It was almost like a needle in a haystack.”
BOOK PICK OF THE DAY
20,000 B.C., the peak of the last ice age–the atmosphere is heavy with dust, deserts, and glaciers span vast regions, and people, if they survive at all, exist in small, mobile groups, facing the horrid threat of extinction.
10,000 years of climate shifts culminating in abrupt global warming that will usher in a fundamentally changed human world. After the Ice is the story of this momentous period–one in which a seemingly minor alteration in temperature could presage anything from the spread of lush woodland to the coming of apocalyptic floods–and one in which we find the origins.
Drawing on the latest research in archaeology, human genetics, and environmental science, After the Ice takes the reader on a sweeping tour of 15,000 years of human history. Steven Mithen brings this world to life through the eyes of an imaginary modern traveler–John Lubbock, namesake of the great Victorian polymath and author of Prehistoric Times.
With Lubbock, readers visit and observe communities and landscapes, experiencing prehistoric life–from aboriginal hunting parties in Tasmania, to the corralling of wild sheep in the central Sahara, to the efforts of the Guila Naquitz people to combat drought with agricultural innovations.
Part history, part science, part time travel, it explains our origins. This book offers an evocative and uniquely compelling portrayal of diverse cultures, lives, and landscapes that laid the foundations of the modern world.
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REFERENCES & SOURCES:
- Fossils found near Old Crow – CBC News
- National Geographic – Mummified Wolf
- The life of Zhùr: A Mummified ice age wolf
- Genomic Data from Extinct North American Camelops
- Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center
- Ancient wolf pup mummy in Yukon permafrost
- Camelidae, camels, llamas, and relatives