A puppy who died in a landslide in Siberia during the Ice Age is being studied by Russian scientists. For four years, researchers at North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) in Yakutsk, Russia, have been examining the remains of the unlucky pooch, which at 12,450 years old is the oldest mummified puppy ever found. It was discovered in Russia's far east in 2011 by two brothers hunting for mammoth tusks.
The 3-month-old female was found in the permafrost, which kept the body in a remarkable state of preservation, with little decomposition. Parts of the puppy’s heart, liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines survived, as did its skin and fur.
Based on the two twigs they found in the puppy's stomach, the scientists theorize that she had tried to save herself during a landslide by trying to hold onto plants with her teeth.
Last year, paleontologist Mietje Germonpre, of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, visited NEFU to observe the puppy’s remains. She explained to The Siberian Times that the analysis will help scientists and historians better understand when dogs were first domesticated.
"There are two main theories," Germonpre told the paper. "The first is that dogs arrived near sites where humans lived and picked up the scraps and gradually they co-existed. The second version talks about the active involvement of man, where the people themselves were the initiator of the relationship, and brought the puppies to their home and trained them."
She believes that this new evidence supports the second theory.
While a necropsy was performed in April, the team plans to continue their research by visiting the site this summer with a crew of archeologists in hopes of finding human remains.