Siberian wolf preserved for 44,000 years may harbor ancient viruses

Siberian wolf preserved for 44,000 years may harbor ancient viruses
Siberian wolf preserved for 44,000 years may harbor ancient viruses

In 2021, residents of the Sakha Republic in eastern Russia discovered a mummified wolf in the permafrost. A godsend for researchers. Because the entire animal has been perfectly preserved in these cold, dry conditions for… 44,000 years! A unique opportunity, therefore, to study both its geneticgenetichis lifestyle, his diet, but also the bacteriabacteria and the ancient viruses it may carry.

A wolf remarkably well preserved in permafrost

Its teeth – which indicate that it is a male -, part of its fur and some of its organs were intact. For example, samples were taken from thestomachstomach of the unfortunate wolf with the hope of determining what he could possibly be feeding on. Analyzes are in progress. And the researchers also hope to come across microorganismsmicroorganisms ancient unknowns that could prove useful to medicine or biotechnologiesbiotechnologies of today.

The Siberian wolf could also carry bacteria, viruses or other infectious agents. Enough to help scientists better understand what kinds of microbes can hide in the creatures trapped in permafrost. And this is important, because, trapped, the said creatures may not be for long.

Should we fear the thawing of permafrost?

Indeed, if the permafrost is known to remain permanently frozen, with anthropogenic global warming, it has started to melt. Animals are thus reappearing. A baby mammoth, in the Yukon (Canada), in 2022. Or a reindeer carcass, still in Siberia, in 2016. It had released an anthrax that had infected 36 people and killed a child.

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