40,000-year-old giant severed wolf's head discovered in Siberia

Shut off the internet, because this is the most unnerving thing you'll see today.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper

Not quite a direwolf, but just as fascinating.


It's like a Game of Thrones direwolf, only smaller and creepier. A 40,000-year-old severed Pleistocene wolf's head has been discovered in eastern Siberia -- and the permafrost that preserved it also kept its teeth and fur pretty much intact.

According to the Siberian Times, the head was found by a local resident, Pavel Efimov, in 2018, though photos were not released until now. The wolf is believed to have been between 2 and 4 years old when it died. The head is 40 cm (15.7 inches) long and the brain is intact.

The discovery is an international affair. Japanese scientists dated the head as more than 40,000 years old, and scientists at the Swedish Museum of Natural History will study its DNA.

"This is a unique discovery of the first ever remains of a fully grown Pleistocene wolf with its tissue preserved," Albert Protopopov, from the Republic of Sakha Academy of Sciences, told the newspaper. "We will be comparing it to modern-day wolves to understand how the species has evolved and to reconstruct its appearance."

Although the discovery itself happened last year, it was announced in early June at the opening of a woolly mammoth exhibit at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo. Scientists also displayed the body of what the Times called "an immaculately-well preserved cave lion cub," also preserved by permafrost. The cub was no more than a month old when it died, the Times reported back in 2018 when the cub was first displayed.