A PUPPY frozen for 14,300 years has been dug up in Siberia – and may have been an ancient pet.
The exceptionally well-preserved mutt also gave scientists a golden ticket to the past: the oldest ‘working copies of genes’ ever found (illustration of how he may looked below at the end).
The frozen body of an ancient mutt has been preserved in Siberian permafrost.
The ancient creature was first found in 2015, buried in permafrost in Tumat, Siberia.
It’s believed to be a canid – possibly a wolf, or a domesticated wolf-like creature.
Now the pup has been analysed by a team of experts, leading to an enormous scientific advance.
DNA can survive for thousands of years with the right conditions.
Even its teeth are still visible after all this time
Researchers analysed the body of the ancient pooch to learn more about its origins
Scientists were able to isolate RNA intact, revealing the secrets of the creature’s evolution
But RNA in living tissue rapidly breaks down because of recycling enzymes.
This continues after death, so researchers have struggled to isolate an intact ancient cell’s RNA.
RNA is the working copy of a gene, which is hugely important.
While DNA reveals what genes a creature had, the RNA can tell us which specific genes were working – and which weren’t active.
But in a rare feat, researchers were able to analyse RNA from the liver, cartilage and muscle tissue of the long-dead pooch.
“Ancient DNA researchers have previously been reluctant to attempt to sequence ancient RNA because it is generally more unstable than DNA, and more prone to enzymatic degradation,” explained Dr Oliver Smith, of the University of Copenhagen, who published the study in PLOS Biology.
“However, following our recent successes in sequencing ancient RNA from plant material, we speculated that a well-preserved animal specimen, frozen in the permafrost, just might retain enough material to sequence.
“To our delight, we found that not only did we find RNA from various tissues, but in some cases the signal was so strong that we could distinguish between tissues in a way that makes biological sense.
The dog was found deep in the Siberian arctic, where frosty temperatures allowed its body to be preserved.
The ancient hound may have been a pet, and appears to be a domesticated wolf-dog hybrid.
An illustration depicting what an ancient canid may have looked like.
Scientists think the creature may have been a pet.
That’s because the hound appears to be a domesticated hybrid of a wolf and a dog – suggesting human influence.