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Fully preserved head of wolf from Ice Age found in Siberia

A perfectly preserved furry head from the Ice Age era has been found by Russian scientists in an expedition of the Mammoth Fauna Study Department at the Russian Academy of Sciences. The head was found preserved in the Siberian Permafrost.  The head of this wolf was predicted to be close to 40,000 years old and was discovered in the Russian arctic region of Yakutia. The wolf’s head was first found by Pavel Efimov, a local resident near the Tirekhtyakh River.

A top researcher from the local branch of Russian Academy of Sciences named Valery Plotnikov has said that the animal belonged to an ancient subspecies of a wolf that had lived the same time when the mammoths lived and slowly led to the extinction of the mammoth species.

Ice Age is a lengthy period in the reduction of temperature of Earth resulting in the expansion of polar ice sheets. Presently Earth is in Quaternary glaciation.

The head which was found is said to be of an adult wolf which is about 25% bigger than the ideal size of the wolves found today. Jikei University in Japan conducted tomographic study and took the help of carbon dating to determine the age of wolf. The gender of the animal was not mentioned as to whether it was male or whether it was female. The size of the wolf’s head is nearly 40 centimetres and it is estimated that the wolf was 2 to 4 years old when it died.

Albert Protopopov, a leading researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences remarked that this is a unique discovery as this is the first time the remains of a fully grown Pleistocene wolf has been found. He further added that now it will be compared to the wolves of the present day and determine in a clearer way how wolves evolved along with the reconstruction of its appearance.

The skulls of the wolves which were previously found were without any covering of tissues and fur whereas the one found currently has a layer of tissues and fir along with ears, tongue and a perfectly preserved brain. It was discovered in August 2018 and the study and scientific investigations are still underway for this animal. Its DNA will now be examined by the Swedish Museum of Natural History. According to scientists, the wolf head was found in the same area where a preserved body of a lion cub was found in 2017, who lived in Ice Age.

osorno volcano

Scientists discover 15000 year old footprint, the oldest evidence of humans in South America

Researchers in Chile reported that they have obtained footprint belonging to humans. It dates back to more than 15000 years. This is the oldest evidence of humans which has been found in Latin America.

This finding makes a direct challenge to the timeline and path of migration of human beings into South America. The evidence which was available till now held the understanding that human beings could not reach the Patagonia region which is located at the south tip of Latin America till 12,000 years before.

The footprint was obtained at Pilauco excavation in Osorno, where researchers have been searching for any evidence since 2007.

Archaeologists from Austral University in Chile reported that the footprint was first detected in 2011 beside a house. It took several years for paleontologist Karen Moreno, geologist Mario Pino to verify that the footprint was that of a human being. The report has been published in the journal PLOS-ONE.

Mario Pino told the newspaper, El Austral that several other footprints have been discovered in South America but none of them was so dated old as this one. Scientists have been able to calculate the age of the footprint by applying radiocarbon techniques of dating to the plant where the footprint was present.

Radioactive dating was first developed by Willard Libby, in the latter part of the 40s who was also awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in 1960. It is based on the principle that radioactive form of Carbon ( C -14) has been continuously created by the interaction of cosmic rays with nitrogen. Measuring the amount of C-14 in the dead animal or plant provides the data from which it can be calculated when the plant or animal died.

Pino reported that the print appeared to be of a male human weighing approximately 70 kilograms. He belonged to the species Hominipes modernus, which is related to Homo Sapiens. Evidence of stone tools has also been obtained in the region around the fossil.

Almost eight years have passed between finding the fossil and reporting the confirmation about the age. The team of researchers spent the time in checking, confirming and re-checking the evidence and finally managed to convince their peers.

The city of Osorno has been a rich archaeological site and scientists were alerted of this after workers found treasures underneath the Earth while digging. Remains of animals such as horses have been found here. Scientists think that many more evidence of humans may be present, but they have been mostly eroded by glaciers or is present underwater.