A 14,000 years-old puppy was discovered by Russian scientists from Siberia, in 2011. Since then, the canine has been under scientific probe. It was preserved perfectly for thousands of years at the cusp of nature.
Now, scientists make an unexpected discovery – a piece of furry animal tissue was discovered from the stomach of the puppy named Tumat. It was yellow and had fine fur, which scientists concluded was of a cave lion.
However, later tests conducted on the animal and the tissue by experts at the Stockholm’s Natural History Museum found it actually belonged to another animal, probably one of the last specimens of its kind, CNN reports.
“When they got the DNA back, it didn’t look like a cave lion. We have a reference database and mitochondrial DNA from all mammals, so we checked the sequence data against that and the results that came back — it was an almost perfect match for woolly rhinoceros,” an evolutionary genetics professor at the Centre for Palaeogenetics told CNN.
Finding a hairy piece of tissue in the stomach of an ice-age carnivore is already an incident unheard of. After scientists did a carbon dating of the tissue, it was found the specimen was 14,400 years old.
As per the researchers, the last woolly rhino, a megaherbivore, went extinct 14,000 years ago, and the time of the puppy’s last meal too coincided in the same time-frame. “So, potentially, this puppy has eaten one of the last remaining woolly rhinos,” Dalen said.
Researchers don’t know how exactly the piece from a woolly rhino’s body ends up in the puppy’s stomach, which was roughly the same size as a modern-day rhino. And it is highly unlikely the puppy killed the rhino.
The researchers also noted, mysteriously, the puppy died shortly after eating the beast, since it was not very digested. But some scientific speculations go – the puppy (or wolf) was eating a baby woolly rhino that some other predators have killed, and the moth just took revenge.