Scientists have uncovered the head of a prehistoric beast that lived 40,000 years ago.
Experts believe the wolf-like animal dates back to the Pleistocene-era and was preserved by the freezing temperatures of the Siberian permafrost.
Researchers are now set to carry out a battery of tests to see if ancient man beheaded the grizzly animal to keep as a trophy.
Scientist Dr Albert Protopopov, an expert in frozen remains from the woolly mammoth era, said: "It is definitely a wolf.
"Maybe the hair colouring makes people think it is a bear, but actually it is quite strange to hear, as morphologically this is a very typical wolf."
The 40,000-year-old creature was discovered in the Siberian permafrost. Credit: The Siberian Times
According to experts, there are some 'peculiarities' and the head was larger than modern-day wolves, suggesting it could be the evidence of an extinct subspecies.
Dr Protopopov said experts are going to return to where the head was found, above the Arctic Circle, and search for the remains of its body.
It's thought movements of ice pulled the head off tens of thousands of years ago, but the head will be examined to see whether man was involved.
"Our suggestion is that the head was separated by ice," said Dr Protopopov.
Scientist are carrying out tests to determine whether the head was a prehistoric hunter's 'trophy'. Credit: The Siberian Times
"We have seen many cuts with ice, like the heads of horses and other animals, so we had no hesitation."
But he says scientists are not ruling out the possibility that a prehistoric hunter could have been responsible for the animal's death.
Speaking to the Siberian Times, he said: "But we do not exclude that it could have been cut artificially. To exclude this a meticulous study is needed.
"We need an expert in traces, who will study this in detail under a microscope.
"We are working on this at this moment."
He added: "There were no other parts of the wolf found at the site, but we plan another expedition to explore this as it can be hidden there."
Others believe the head could belong to the mythical 'bearwolf'. Credit: The Siberian Times
Following the find, rumours began to circulate that the severed head could, in fact, have belonged to the mythical 'bearwolf'.
But Dr Protopopov says this is just due to the discolouration of the animal's hair.
He explained: "The brownish colouring of the hairs appeared because it spent so many time in the permafrost.
"The natural pigment in hairs was destroyed and permafrost passed it brownish colour to the hairs.
"So even if we wash, we will not see the real colour of the hairs.
"As a result, we cannot add any information to the discussion on whether the Pleistocene wolves were grey or dark."
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