Two ice age animals, a caribou calf and a wolf pup, have been found by gold miners close to Dawson City, Yukon. The two specimens were dug up from the permafrost and taken to analysis. Researchers carbon-dated the mummies to be over 50,000 years old. Their state was remarkable: fur, skin, and muscle were still intact, explained Yukon government paleontologist Grant Zazula:
“They’re spectacular, they’re world-class, and we’re definitely really excited about them.”
The Only Mummified Ice Age Wolf In the World
Yukon is a place where many ice age bones and fossils were found, but to find entire mummified carcasses is very rare, added Zazula:
“To our knowledge this is the only mummified ice age wolf ever found in the world.”
The caribou’s mummy only had the animal’s head, front limbs, and torso. It was found in June 2016 at a gold mine owned by Tony Beets, who appeared on the TV show Gold Rush.
The caribou was found in an area where there is an ice age volcanic ash bed, which dates back to 80,000 years.
“These are ashes that are found in the permafrost from volcanoes in Alaska that erupted during the ice age. We think this is some of the oldest mummified soft tissue in the entire world,” said Zazula.
The wolf pup’s mummy was found in July 2016 near Dawson. The miner thought it was a dog when he saw it, explained the paleontologist. A vet examined the remains and estimated the pup died at almost eight weeks old.
As soon as they found the carcasses, the miners reported their discoveries to researchers so that they can come, study and preserve the specimens.
The two ice-age animals were accepted by the Canadian Conservation Institute and are now on display at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre in Dawson City. You can see them up close, until the end of the month. Then, the specimens will be exhibited at the Beringia Interpretive Centre in Whitehorse.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.