An 18,000-year-old Siberian puppy, named Dogor, has been found intact by scientists with beliefs it could be the oldest dog in the world.
The canine was two months old when it died and was found remarkably preserved and buried in permafrost ice by tusk hunters at the Belaya Gora site.
Complete with its spear-headed milk teeth, fuzzy fur, long whiskers, eyelashes, claws and velvety nose all in perfect condition, the male animal’s name means ‘friend’ in Yakut language and also fittingly suggests ‘Dog or…’ in English.
Dogor has stunned researchers as it could hold the answer to the development of dogs. Now, the key question following the outstanding discovery is whether he is a dog or a wolf, or perhaps an early ancestor of both.
Swedish Centre for Palaeogenetics Professor Love Dalén shared on Twitter that it is “possibly the oldest dog ever found”.
Genome analyses shows it's a male. So we asked our Russian colleagues to name it…
Thus, the name of the puppy is Dogor!
Dogor is a Yakutian word for "friend", which seems very suitable. pic.twitter.com/epIz8mEpVW
— Centre for Palaeogenetics (@CpgSthlm) November 25, 2019
Scientists will undergo further testing to determine whether Dogor is a very late Ice Age wolf, an early domesticated dog, an early modern wolf or even an example of a mix from a time when wolves were evolving into dogs.
So far, DNA testing in Sweden has failed to determine its species or cause of death.
Researchers believe its position suggests Dogor was not in distress when it died more than 18,000 years ago, according to The Siberian Times.
Here is another amazing find from the Belaya Gora site!
Radiocarbon dating says it 18,000 years old.
We are hoping to answer this by sequencing it's genome (it has 43% endogenous DNA).
But what do you think? pic.twitter.com/MTZ918GFBf
— Love Dalén (@love_dalen) April 16, 2019
While initial DNA tests can usually determine a species, the Centre, which has Europe’s largest bank of canine DNA, has not been able to identify it.
“This is intriguing, what if it is a dog?” Dr Sergey Fedorov of the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North told the publication. “We can’t wait to get results from further tests.”
The pup, which was born in the Upper Paleolithic period also known as the Old Stone Age, was found in the summer of 2018 north-east of Yakutsk – the coldest city on Earth.
There are hopes Dogor could hold the key to understanding evolution.