Experts examined a Pleistocene puppy that had been frozen for 12,400 years, and a scientific team wants to clone it back to life.
Among the experts present at the observation is South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who is best known for his interest in cloning woolly mammoths. Now, he plans to include the ancient canid in his "resurrection" project.
In 2011, experts were able to unearth what is believed to be the sibling of the frozen Pleistocene puppy. However, the latter is better preserved hence, scientists are hoping to get more valuable data, says researcher Sergey Fedorov from North-East Federal University.
Woo-suk also seemed pleased with the way the puppy was preserved. In fact, he was excited. The team looked at the carcass comprehensively, touched the soft tissues and looked at the best-preserved body parts. Woo-suk then took samples of the ear cartilage, muscles and skin.
Best Brain Sample
Another remarkable finding is that the brain of the puppy is also preserved well. Dr. Pavel Nikolsky from the Geological Institute in Moscow even made fairly high estimates.
"The degree of preservation is about 70 to 80 percent," he says.
As of now, the parts are yet to be extracted. What are available now are results of magnetic resonance imaging scans.
Although the brain has dried out, obviously, vital parts like the cerebellum, pituitary gland and both parencephalon are still observable. Nikolsky said it can be confirmed that this is the first time that they have collected a brain of a Pleistocene dog — the first predator's brain from the said period.
Bacteria And Parasites
The team also obtained samples from the ground surrounding the carcass, hoping to discover bacteria present. In the future, they will compare the specimen to the intestines of the puppy and see if it also thrives inside the animal.
They also took samples to determine parasites such as fleas and ticks that are characteristics of this type of puppy.
The puppy was unearthed in an icy grave near the village of Tumat in the Ust-Yansky district of the Sakha Republic, Russia. The location was close to signs of possible early human activities. When the experts found the puppy, Fedorov says they knew they got a perfect find with the well-reserved nose, tail and even hair.
Experts believe that the puppy died in a landslide. The animals were then sealed in the permafrost and subsequently mummified. Initial DNA tests revealed that the animal was a dog and not a wolf, as previously thought. However, scientists will perform more work to establish the truth as the genetic makeup of the two animals are highly similar.