February 21, 2020 | 10:27am
When miners first unearthed a bird from permafrost in Siberia, it was so well-preserved that they might have thought the poor creature had perished just the day before.
But radiocarbon dating and genetic analysis later revealed that the frozen specimen was actually a 46,000-year-old horned lark.
The bird was discovered by fossil ivory hunters near the village of Belaya Gora in northeastern Siberia. They then brought it to scientists Nicolas Dussex, Love Dalén and their team of experts at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, who confirmed the bird’s classification.
Their research was published in the journal Communications Biology on Friday.
“This finding implies that the climatic changes that took place at the end of the last Ice Age led to formation of new subspecies,” Dalén told CNN, suggesting that the icy avian corpse might be the ancestor of two of today’s lark species, including one type found in northern Russia and the other in the Mongolian steppe.