Meet Dogor, the prehistoric puppy buried in Russia’s permafrost for the last 18,000 years.
The good boy, believed to have died at two months old, was discovered last year in frozen mud in Yakutsk, a port city in eastern Siberia. Even though experts speculate it may have been the oldest living dog, its features are unusually well-preserved.
“This puppy has all its limbs, pelage [or] fur, even whiskers,” said Nikolai Androsov, the director of the private museum Northern World private museum, which is storing its remains, CBS News reported. “The nose is visible. There are teeth.”
He even confirmed that they could tell the canine was a male, he said during the presentation at the city’s Mammoth Museum.
In the year before the finding was announced, Dogor was studied by scientists from around the world. The first question was how old it was.
"The first step was of course to send the sample to radio carbon dating to see how old it was and when we got the results back it turned out that it was roughly 18,000 years old," said Love Dalén, professor of evolutionary genetics at the Center for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm, Sweden.
The second question was whether the specimen was a dog or a wolf, which still hasn’t been definitively determined, despite extensive DNA testing. “Normally when you have a two-fold coverage genome, which is what we have, you should be able to relatively easily say whether it's a dog or a wolf, but we still can't say and that makes it even more interesting," Dalén said, adding that they are now preparing to do a third round of genome sequencing.
Its name, Dogor, means “friend” in the local indigenous language Yakut.
The region has been popular in past years for archaeological digs. More and more prehistoric animals like woolly mammoths have been unveiled as permafrost in the area melts as a result of climate change.
Often, ancient remains are discovered by mammoth tusk hunters, said scientist Sergey Fyodorov, who has been researching Dogor. Mammoth tusks are valued at more than $800 a pound, according to National Geographic, and the legal form of ivory has gained popularity in China, Fyodorov said.