A 2017 study published in the journal Nature Communications suggested that modern dogs were domesticated from a single wolf population 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, but tests on this specimen could offer further clues as to the precise period.
“We don’t know exactly when dogs were domesticated, but it may have been from about that time.
We are interested in whether it is in fact a dog or a wolf, or perhaps it’s something halfway between the two,” Stanton added.
“It seems that dogs were domesticated from a lineage of wolves that went extinct,” Stanton said. “So that’s why it’s such a difficult problem to work on to understand where and when dogs were domesticated.”
The researchers’ genome analysis has revealed that the puppy was a male so the scientists, after discussing with their Russian colleagues, have named the puppy “Dogor”. The name means “friend” in Yakutian – as well as being a pun on “dog or wolf”.
The scientists hope that further genome data tests on the creature will reveal more about Dogor’s origins.
Photographs released by the Centre for Palaeogenetics show the puppy in an almost perfect condition, with its nose, whiskers and teeth remarkably intact.
Dogor can be seen almost completely covered in fur except for an exposed rib cage.
Dogor was discovered in a remote part of Siberia and is so well preserved because it was found in a tunnel that was dug into the permafrost.
The remains were later sent to Oxford University’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit for dating.