Mummified pup preserved for 14,000 years ‘ate one of Earth’s last woolly rhinos’

A pup preserved in ice for thousands of years has been found to have eaten one of the last woolly rhinos that ever walked the Earth.

Researchers found the chunk of ancient rhino meat while examining its the realms of the ancient puppy’s stomach.

DNA analysis of the undigested slab of skin with yellow fur revealed it was a woolly rhino and not a cave lion as had first been thought.

The great beast, which roamed the ice sheets of Asia and Europe some 14,000 years ago – roughly when the pup had its last meal.

Edna Lord, a doctoral student centre for palaeogenics in Sweden, said it means the puppy ate one of the very last woolly rhinos that ever existed.

Her findings were published in the science journal Current Biology that looked into the extinction of the woolly rhino.

The mummified remains were discovered in Tumat, located in the remote northeastern region of Siberia, back in 2001.

It has been estimated that the pup was between three and nine months old when it died, although it is unclear whether it was a dog or a wolf.

Ms Lord told Live Science: “I think it falls around that critical point for the dog/wolf domestication.”

Researchers are now looking into whether the pup was domesticated or not.

They said it’s possible the puppy might have been part of a scavenging pack of wolves who either killed the giant beast or came across its carcass.

But, they also believe that it could have been living with humans who might have shared the meat with the pup.

While hunters did on occasion track and eat woolly rhinos, it is unlikely they contributed to their extinction.

It is believed that their extinction happened due to an increasingly warmer climate, which they couldn’t handle.

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