The head of a giant Pleistocene wolf was discovered in the Abyisky district in the north of Yakutia in July 2018 as footage released on Monday shows. Researchers there sent samples and measurement data overseas and with help from colleagues in Japan and Sweden determined its age as approximately 40,000 years, the news outlet said.
The head was shown in public this week in footage provided to Reuters TV by the academy. Scientists believe the wolf was fully grown at 2 to 4 years old when it died, according to the Times.
The severed head was that of an adult wolf whose overall size was about 25% bigger than those living today.
Valery Plotnikov, a top researcher at the local branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the animal belonged to an ancient subspecies of wolf that lived at the same time as the mammoths and became extinct alongside them.
Thanks to the freezing conditions in the region where Yakutia resident Pavel Yefimov found the head, it is very well preserved, with teeth, fur, facial tissue and even the wolf's brain largely intact.
"We hope to learn a lot about the ecology and evolution of this interesting predator", Protopopov said.
Dr. Naoki Suzuki from the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan, and collaborators CT-scanned the specimen to build a digital model of the brain and the skull's interior.
In 2015 and 2017, the remains of three cave lions were uncovered by the same group. This story was reported from Los Angeles.