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18,000 year old "dog" found in permafrost

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The timeline would fit with an early domesticated wolf/dog. Though of course there is also a high likelihood of ongoing interbreeding which could make it more difficult to define a clear distinction.

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The level of preservation is extraordinary. I wonder if they could clone it!?

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It is very difficult to clone something if you do not have intact cells. Earlier this year the group from Iritani (Kindai University) have isolated nuclei from frozen mammoth samples and introduced them into mice egg cells. While some activity was observed the damage was too great as a whole.

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4 minutes ago, CharonY said:

It is very difficult to clone something if you do not have intact cells. Earlier this year the group from Iritani (Kindai University) have isolated nuclei from frozen mammoth samples and introduced them into mice egg cells. While some activity was observed the damage was too great as a whole.

Ah, OK. I did wonder if the apparent preservation was just superficial.

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Yes, unfortunately. As a whole they are well preserved allowing certain in-vitro analyses. The problem is that the damage is on the (sub)-cellular level. Even fresh samples do see a certain level of degradation, if not carefully prepared.

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I'm trying to make sense of this, in the context of the last major glaciation, which peaked about 22,000 years ago.  I recently posted this illustration of calculated depths of ice around 21,000 years ago. But here it is again, as it's what's relevant to this find

1109276441_Icesheets2.jpg.73374967d6405d608d3c05ed86a6a2fe.jpg

Given that this is Siberia, it's surprising to find such remains so far north as Siberia dated to 18,000 years ago. The last glaciation is quoted as ending about 11,500 years ago, so it's a mystery what such animals were finding to eat in Siberia 18,000 years ago. You wouldn't think that there was grazing on land to support reindeer etc. that far north at the time. 

Maybe it IS a dog, and they were kept by people living like modern Inuit, so they were being fed by humans who were hunting seals and fishing. Or an inland fishing community. 

I haven't found any online record of the extent of glaciation in Siberia for that period.

 

 

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Apparently, it was relatively warm there at the time

Quote

SIBERIA, a name that conjures up images of snow and ice, may have been an unlikely refuge from the bitter cold of the last ice age. Ancient DNA from the region paints a picture of remarkably stable animal and plant life in the teeth of plunging temperatures. 

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21328464-900-siberia-was-a-wildlife-refuge-in-the-last-ice-age/#ixzz66g66EPFr

 

Quote

Northeastern Siberia was not covered by a continental-scale ice sheet.[9] Instead, large, but restricted, icefield complexes covered mountain ranges within northeast Siberia, including the Kamchatka-Koryak Mountains.[10][11]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Glacial_Period

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That's pretty amazing. Obviously, the evidence of the pup said that something was not what you would imagine, but I didn't expect that. So Dublin was buried deep under the ice, while parts of Siberia were ice-free. 

So the pup is more probably a wolf than a dog, or an ancestor of both. 

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4 minutes ago, mistermack said:

So the pup is more probably a wolf than a dog, or an ancestor of both.

That's pretty amazing.

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3 hours ago, mistermack said:

or an ancestor of both.

That is highly unlikely.  While there are some issues with pinpointing when dogs became domesticated, the oldest assumptions would be ~30k ago, whereas more conservative ones placed it closer to 15k. Some of the issues are caused by  interbreeding and the possibility of multiple domestication events (followed by interbreeding sometime later). In contrast,  the ancestor of wolves are placed more than 750k years ago. The article itself does not really say what the issue is, but I have seen elsewhere (assuming it is recorded correctly) that they are trying to sequence its whole genome (rather than amplifying diagnostic markers). So far there was only a comment indicating as having only low coverage so far, which could mean that they have not covered the diagnostic areas yet and/or are still in the assembly process. Since whole genome sequencing requires higher quality in the specimen, it is also possible that they are running into quality issues.

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I read somewhere recently that the modern wolf might be much more distantly related to the widespread remains that turn up regularly.

A bit like how modern humans replaced Neanderthals. Can't give chapter and verse. I think it was in a study trying to establish the origin of the dog. If I find it again I'll post it.

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5 minutes ago, mistermack said:

I read somewhere recently that the modern wolf might be much more distantly related to the widespread remains that turn up regularly.

A bit like how modern humans replaced Neanderthals. Can't give chapter and verse. I think it was in a study trying to establish the origin of the dog. If I find it again I'll post it.

I think I may know the studies that could have been referred to. The issue was that during earlier studies the above mentioned earlier dates of dog ancestry were discussed, based on e.g. analyses of the Altai canine from ca. 30k years ago. However, subsequently more mitochondrial DNA from wolves were sequenced which questioned the validity of those analyses somewhat (or at least this was a hotly discussed issue a while back). However, it is clear that Gray wolves date back to at least 70k years (more disputed record go back to 1 myr). What may have been discussed in this context is the split from ancestral (or modern) wolf lineages. For example, there is discussion that modern populations of gray wolves (and dogs) might have their origins in a single population. While the timing might still a bit off with 18k years (depending on the precise estimate of the origins of the dog, and geographic constraints) at least in theory it could be possible that the puppy was part of that ancestral population (again, we are talking below the species level here, the wolf lineage is much older). 

However, that should be testable and the fact that there is nothing noted about that makes me believe that the data is not there yet.

 

 

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Something like that. When I said "or an ancestor of both" I didn't mean an ancestor of the species, I meant an ancestor of the modern population, which with crossbreeding between wolves and dogs could be a fairly messy lineage anyway. 

Of course, this pup was nobody's ancestor. It's amazingly well preserved. Maybe it drowned. Otherwise, you would think that the crows would have got at it. 

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6 hours ago, mistermack said:

When I said "or an ancestor of both" I didn't mean an ancestor of the species, I meant an ancestor of the modern population, which with crossbreeding between wolves and dogs could be a fairly messy lineage anyway. 

I should note that the timing would still be off as the split gray wolf and the ancestor of the dog (which would be the common ancestor of extant wolves and dogs in the usual definition) is earlier than the the evidence for domestication and is conservatively estimated to happen at least 27k years ago. I.e. about 9k years before the puppy lived. However, since the pup was found roughly around the time of divergence/domestication it would could be part of an admixing population (but not be part of the ancestor population in the common sense), if that makes sense. 

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