Head of 32,000-year-old wolf found in Russian Arctic

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The head of an Ice Age wolf, at the Mammoth Fauna Study Department at the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia, Russia, June 10, 2019. (AP)
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In this Sept. 6, 2018, photo, the head of an Ice Age wolf is seen after it was found during an expedition of the Mammoth Fauna Study Department at the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia near Belaya Gora, Abyysky region of Sakha Republic, Russia. (AP)
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The head of an ancient wolf, which had been preserved in permafrost for over 40,000 years, is seen on the banks of the Tirekhtyakh river in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russia September 6, 2018. (REUTERS)
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In this Sept. 6, 2018, photo, the head of an Ice Age wolf is seen after found during an expedition of the Mammoth Fauna Study Department at the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia near Belaya Gora, Abyysky region of Sakha Republic, Russia. (AP)
Updated 15 June 2019
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Head of 32,000-year-old wolf found in Russian Arctic

  • Research shows the animal died about 32,000 years ago in the Pleistocene epoch, when the most recent Ice Age occurred

MOSCOW: A first intact head of a gigantic adult wolf which died about 32,000 years ago and was preserved in permafrost has been found in the Russian Arctic, scientists have said.
Covered with thick fur, the head was found by a local on the banks of the Tirekhtyakh River in Russia’s remote Arctic region of Yakutia last summer.
It features a well-preserved brain, soft tissue and a set of powerful teeth and measures 41.5 centimeters (16 inches) in length.
By comparison, the torso of a modern-day wolf is between 66 and 86 centimeters long.
The head was handed to local palaeontologists who teamed up with scientists from the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo to study it.
“It is the first ever such find,” Albert Protopopov, head of mammoth fauna studies at the Yakutia Academy of Sciences, told AFP on Friday.
“Only cubs have been discovered before.”
Research shows the animal died about 32,000 years ago in the Pleistocene epoch, when the most recent Ice Age occurred.
The wolf is believed to have been between two and four years old when it died.
The Pleistocene epoch was the time when megafauna such as woolly mammoths roamed the Earth.
Protopopov said the scientists from Russia, Japan and Sweden would continue to study the head.
“We are hoping to understand whether this was a separate subspecies,” he added.
Several species of ancient wolf lived during the Ice Age including now-extinct dire wolf that featured in the popular TV series Game of Thrones.


Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

Updated 16 July 2019
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Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

  • The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April
  • Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films

BEIRUT: Cliff divers used to competing in isolated spots have been leaping into the Mediterranean in bustling Beirut, the first time the Lebanese capital’s landmark Raouche Rock has hosted an international contest.
The towering rock, also known as Pigeons Rock, is an enduring symbol of a city where many other landmarks were destroyed by the 1975-90 civil war.
“Normally when we have cliffs like this, it is in the middle of nowhere. I have never been to a place with an amazing cliff right in the city center,” said Gary Hunt, a Briton who won the men’s competition on Sunday.
The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April on El Nido island in the Philippines and winds up in Bilbao, Spain in September.
Hunt became the first diver in the series history to receive a perfect 10 score from each of the five judges at Sunday’s competition.
In the women’s contest, Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland, 27, scored her sixth consecutive win of this series.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you perform a dive. You still get up there 22 meters (72 feet) high and you still have all these negative emotions,” said Iffland, who has been diving since she was nine.
“To overcome that fear is something that I cannot express.”
Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films.
Daring Lebanese have leapt from the rock for generations. Some have also committed suicide from it.
Hundreds of spectators watched the competition, which ended on Sunday, from the adjacent rocks and promenade.
’Young again’
Among them was 63-year-old fisherman Mohamed Itani, who said he had jumped off the cliff 36 times over the years for fun. “It is beautiful,” said Itani as he watched the divers. “It makes me feel young again.”
Judges mark the divers on their take-off and entry to the water and number of twists, somersaults and position in the air.
Hunt, 35, said he used to count to three just before he jumped but now just takes two breaths: one when he lifts his arms up and one when he leaps.
“There are three seconds in that air where you are just in total control. Your brain and your body decide what you do and you are completely free,” he said.
Itani described a similar feeling. “You’re like an eagle in the air,” he said.