Two of the most popular puppies in the world right now aren’t on YouTube, don’t have their own Instagram account and haven’t even barked for more than 12,000 years.
The pups, known as the Tumat dogs, died during the Ice Age and were recently discovered beneath a layer of permafrost in northeast Russia, The Guardian reports. Scientists from around the world have marveled at the pair, largely because they are almost perfectly preserved — the rarest of rarities for specimens that date back an estimated 12,460 years.
“To find a carnivorous mammal intact with skin, fur and internal organs — this has never happened before in history,” Sergei Fyodorov, the head of exhibitions at Russia’s Mammoth Museum, told The Guardian.
The dogs are important for a number of reasons, including helping biologists learn more about the evolution of dogs, and when they were first domesticated. One of the puppies has a well-preserved brain that will be further analyzed, as will the parasites on their fur and the contents of their stomachs. They were an estimated 3 months old when they died, and quite possibly came from the same litter.
“The fact that soft tissue is preserved will give much more information compared to information that can be obtained from ‘normal’ fossils,” paleontologist Mietje Germonpre said.
And it just took 12,000 years.