Newly identified specimen of extinct Japanese wolf on display in Tokyo

A newly identified specimen of an extinct Japanese wolf made its public debut in Tokyo on Tuesday. A schoolgirl helped initially identify the mounted specimen.

The wolf is now on display as part of a special exhibition titled "Mammals3 - The Parade of Life" at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo's Ueno district. It had been in the museum's collection wrongly labeled as the skin of a kind of yamainu, or wild dog.

Second-year Tokyo junior high school student Komori Hinako joined experts and concluded in a report released in February that the specimen is likely to be a Japanese wolf that was kept at Ueno Zoo more than a century ago.

The team began studying it after Komori saw it in 2020 and wondered whether it was actually a Japanese wolf she had seen in books.

The museum said the specimen is the fourth example of the extinct animal in Japan. The other three are at the same facility, the University of Tokyo, and Wakayama University.

Kawada Shin-ichiro of the museum's department of zoology is on the research team. He said the specimen is important for exploring the features of the extinct species. He expressed the hope that visitors to the exhibition can feel its value for future research, despite it being more than 100 years old and a little worn.

Komori said she is glad that the specimen is on display, adding that she feels it looks cute.

The exhibition will run through June 16.