The Japan Times
January 19, 2000

Wolf fossil find dated to 1.7 million years


NAGANO (Kyodo) Fossils of a wolf believed to date back 1.7 million years — the oldest on record in Japan — have been found in a stratum beneath the Tama River in Akishima, western Tokyo.

The finding is far older than wolf fossils previously regarded as Japan's oldest which date back 400,000 years, found in Shizuoka Prefecture, said Akihiro Koizumi, a researcher at the Iida municipal art museum in Nagano Prefecture.

Koizumi said he found 34 fossil samples, which constitute almost an entire wolf, in September in a mud layer believed to be 1.7 million years old.

Koizumi concluded that the fossils were those of a wolf as a front leg joint bore characteristics unique to canines and the shape and size of the lower jaw were almost identical to those of wolves inhabiting continental Eurasia.

"Fossils of canines from the same period were discovered in northern China. The latest discovery could help studies of animal migration patterns from the continent to Japan," he said.

WOLF FOSSILS, believed to date back 1.7 million years, were discovered recently in western Tokyo.