In 2018, a well-preserved frozen bird was found on the ground in the Belaya Gora area of northeastern Siberia.
Its state of conservation was so extraordinary that part of its DNA has been recovered, verifying that it is a female horned lark that lived 46,000 years ago .
Researchers at the Center for Paleogenetics, a new research center at the University of Stockholm and the Swedish Museum of Natural History have been responsible for studying this specimen found in the Siberian permafrost : permafrost is the layer of permanently frozen (but not permanently covered with ice or snow) from very cold regions.
We can not only identify the bird as a horned lark. Genetic analysis also suggests that the bird belonged to a population that was a joint ancestor of two subspecies of horned larks that live today, one in Siberia and one in the Mongolian steppe. This helps us understand how the diversity of subspecies evolves.
The bird may be an ancestor of two subspecies of larks alive today, one in northern Russia and the other in the Mongolian steppe. "This finding implies that the climatic changes that took place at the end of the last Ice Age led to the formation of new subspecies," the researchers explained.