Preserved puppy may provide missing link to wolf ancestry
An 18,000-year-old puppy unearthed in Siberia could prove to be the missing link between dogs and wolves, scientists believe.
The puppy was discovered preserved by permafrost near Yakutsk, in eastern Siberia, last summer and carbon dating has revealed it had been frozen for around 18,000 years.
Researchers at the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm, Sweden, announced this week that extensive DNA tests have so far been unable to confirm whether the animal was a dog or a wolf.
Experts believe this may be because the canine comes from the period when dogs were being domesticated, and hope the creature will prove crucial to uncovering when exactly the evolution began.
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"It's normally relatively easy to tell the difference between the two," researcher David Stanton said. "The fact that we can't might suggest that it's from a population that was ancestral to dogs and wolves."