Tuesday, Mar 05 2024
All Cities
Choose Your City
'The beauty of Siberia took me by surprise'

First video of ancient ‘bear-like’ wolf preserved in the permafrost for more than 40,000 years

By 0 and 0 and 0
12 June 2019


The question is: was the severing ‘artificial’? Picture: Albert Protopopov

Our report about the prehistoric wolf’s head found in frozen soil in Siberia attracted huge attention around the world. 

Today we can show the first video of the ancient animal with its head severed. 

A number of our readers queried whether the wolf was - in fact - a bear, or even a mythical ‘bearwolf’ and below are the answers from scientist Dr Albert Protopopov which explode this idea.

The cut of the ancient wolf head appears consistent with being detached by ice but the scientists want to check this.

The question is: was the severing ‘artificial’? 

Was this creature the trophy of a hunter deep in prehistory?

If so, it would be hugely surprising since ancient man is not believed to have populated this northern part of icy Yakutia some 40,000 years ago; at least there is no archeological evidence for this.

As we revealed earlier, the snarling wolf baring its teeth - and with its brain intact - was found above the Arctic Circle by local man Pavel Efimov.

The predator with a thick “mammoth-like” coat and impressive fangs had a seemingly larger head today’s Siberian wolves. 

Pleistocene wolf head

Pleistocene wolf

Nose - close-up

Ear - close-up

Pleistocene wolf head

'Yes it is definitely a wolf.'  Pictures: Albert Protopopov, Yakutia24

Dr Protopopov said: ’Answering the questions from The Siberian Times readers, yes it is definitely a wolf. 

‘Maybe the hair colouring makes people think it is a bear, but actually it is quite strange to hear, as morphologically this is a very typical wolf. 

'Yet when we made CTA scans of the wolf, we found out that there are some peculiarities.

‘Some parts of the skull are more developed than in modern wolves. 

‘I cannot say more for now, as this is the subject of our current study. 

Albert Protopopov

Dr Albert Protopopov, Academy of Sciences of Sakha Republic (Yakutia). Picture: The Siberian Times

‘We want to find out if this represents the individual characteristics of this very specimen. 

‘Or if this can be a wolf sub-species, given the different environment in which these animals lived in the conditions of mammoth steppe.’

He is doubtful it was a dire wolf - an extinct species known in North America, which at the time was joined to Siberia by a land bridge.

'I would say it was not a dire wolf,’ he said.

‘But we are not ready to give exact size of this wolf when it was alive.

’It was definitely smaller than modern Arctic wolves, closer to the common wolf in its size.’|

CT scan

CT scan

When we made CTA scans of the wolf, we found out that there are some peculiarities. Pictures: Albert Protopopov, Naoki Suzuki

Scientists will also ‘make a special research to study how the head was separated from the body. 

‘Our suggestion is that the head was separated by ice. 

‘We have seen many cuts with ice, like the heads of horses and other animals, so we had no hesitation.’

Ice when it expands frequently beheads dead animals. 

‘There are characteristic traces on the soft tissues, presumably left while the tissue was fresh or even alive,’ he said.

‘The effect is like an axe or sharp big knife.

‘But we do not exclude that it could have been cut artificially. 

‘To exclude this a meticulous study is needed. 

‘We need an expert in traces, who will study this in detail under a microscope. 

‘We are working on this at this moment.’

Permafrost layers

Permafrost layer at Duvanny Yar

Permafrost outcrops elsewhere in Yakutia and st Duvanny Yar (Kolyma river). Pictures: philkook, Luke Griswold-Tergis

The cut of the ancient wolf head is not typical of an ice cut - it is less smooth.

'There were no other parts of the wolf found at the site, but we plan another expedition to explore this as it can be hidden there. 

'The brownish colouring of the hairs appeared because it spent so many time in the permafrost. 

‘The natural pigment in hairs was destroyed and permafrost passed it brownish colour to the hairs. 

‘So even if we wash, we will not see the real colour of the hairs.

‘As a result, we cannot add any information to the discussion on whether the Pleistocene wolves were grey or dark.’

'There were no other parts of the wolf found at the site, but we plan another expedition to explore this as it can be hidden there.' Pictures: Naoki Suzuki

Pleistocene wolf

Pleistocene wolf

Comments (9)

40.000 years! That's the approximate time of the disappearance of the Neandhertals. Can you imagine if we have a surprise in melting glaciers in Europe?
Joan, Spain
01/08/2020 17:22
This is strange,I've seen this creature in my dream yesterday night.It was bigger than average wolf had brown fur and it's growl made everyone shiver.It is hard to believe.
Vijendra Singh Chouhan, Jodhpur Rajasthan India
29/12/2019 00:50
I am anxiously waiting for DNA testing. That will answer a ton of questions.
Mary Manning, USA
25/11/2019 09:31
This next needs to be proofread by a native speaker of English or someone professionally competent in the language. Some sentences appear contradictory probably because of the poor English used.
Gabriel Rosa, Arganil, Portugal
29/06/2019 21:47
sibiria is not bigger than europe and the US combined. Get your facts right
Peter, Paris
24/06/2019 02:26
they'll do DNA sequencing to compare to today's woolves. If this is a bear, I'd suspect the DNA sequencing would show a hint of that ;)
mike, seatle
22/06/2019 10:13
Its a grizzly bear, that is no wolf, check the nose and teeth, same species as of today's grizzly bear.
johnny, canada
18/06/2019 15:31
How was it definitely smaller than a modern arctic wolf if the head alone is half the size of a modern wolf?
Skeptical Steve, Siberia
13/06/2019 18:55
Sheep/dog/ bear/ wolf man.
J Khan, Netherlands
13/06/2019 15:03

Add your comment

We welcome a healthy debate, but do not accept offensive or abusive comments. Please also read 'Siberian Times' Privacy Policy



Add your comments

The views expressed in the comments above are those of our readers. 'Siberian Times' reserves the right to pre-moderate some comments.

Control code*

Type the code

* obligatory



The Bank of Russia official exchange rates of foreign currencies