Dawson City will display a real-life snapshot of an ancient predator and the prey after the specimens were previously analyzed and dated.
On 13 September, Paleontologist Grant Zazula stated that these Ice Age specimens are the oldest mummified mammals discovered in the world:
“Once in a while we find remains of ice-age voles or squirrels, but in terms of something significant and crazy like this, this is very, very rare.”
The two remains were radiocarbon dated to more than 50,000 years ago when the North was replaced by a cold and grassy tundra. The area close to Dawson City was cold, dry, and had no trees – sediment found with the mummies were proof of the ancient landscape.
The specimens were discovered by gold miners in 2016 at just a month apart.
The Oldest Mummified Mammal Tissue in the World
Zazula stated that the caribou carcass which only included the front half – head, front limbs, and torso, was the “oldest mummified mammal tissue in the world for soft-tissue skin, hair and muscle.”
The wolf was found in July, a month after the caribou discovery. The paleontologist concluded that the specimen is spectacular:
“It’s beautiful, the fur, it’s got the cute little paws and tail and the curled upper lip showing its teeth. It’s spectacular.”
Finally, paleontologists in Canada can get some peace, he added:
“We sometimes get jealous because in Siberia, we have colleagues who work in Russia, and it seems like they find a new woolly mammoth carcass every summer. But we never seem to find those in the Yukon or Alaska.”
The research is not yet over. Samples from the caribou and wolf specimens will be genetically tested to learn more about the ancestors, animal diets, the chemical composition of the bones and so on.
Zazula concluded that these mummies make you wonder about the ancient time and it really brings it to life:
“When you look at fossil bones, that’s one thing. But when you actually see a whole animal from an ancient time, it brings that ancient time to life.”
People can see the specimens on display in Dawson City until the end of this month and then they will be sent in Whitehorse to join the exhibition at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere