A frozen bird discovered on the ground in northeastern Siberia by fossil ivory hunters is believed to be around 46,000 years old and provides a crucial piece for researchers to learn more about the end of the Ice Age.
The "exceptionally well-preserved" horned lark was found in 2018 and was sent to researchers at the Center for Paleogenetics at Stockholm University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History.
Researchers found that the carcass - a female lark - was around 44,000 to 49,000 years old. This is the first bird carcass procured from Ice Age permafrost deposits, they note. Their findings were published Friday in the peer-reviewed journal Communications Biology.
Nicholas Dussex, a researcher at Stockholm University, said in a statement that the lark is also an ancestor of two different lark subspecies - one in Mongolia and one in Siberia. It provides further context to the ecosystem this lark lived in during the last Ice Age.
But the researchers' long-term goal is to map the lark's genome and figure out how it compares to modern subspecies for horned larks.
"This helps us understand how the diversity of subspecies evolves," he said in a statement.
The same team is looking into whether Dogor, the 18,000-year-old puppy also found in the Siberian permafrost, is a dog or a wolf.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Horned lark: Frozen bird discovered in Siberia estimated 46K years old