The First Nations people of the Canadian Arctic and Alaska tell of a mythical ancient creature known as the tiriarnaq, or “weasel bear.” According to interviews with indigenous peoples, this animal has a longer neck than most polar bears, is incredibly fast, and resembles a weasel. In one interview published by the Joint Secretariat of Canada’s Inuvialuit Settlement Region, a hunter recounts the first time he spotted one of the cryptids:
They call them weasel bears. That’s first time I ever saw one…. It’s really long, skinny. It doesn’t look like a normal polar bear. It’s got a long neck and it’s just thin, the width of this table here….And it was all muscle…. Not much fat, no….
Accounts of the weasel bears vary, but they all have one thing in common: a long, skinny head at the end of a long neck. While reports of the creature have been collected for years, definitive evidence of the animal has been scant.
Until now, that is. Archaeologists working near Barrow, Alaska have been given a rare opportunity to study regions usually covered by permafrost, thanks to the usual suspect: climate change. The frozen tundras of northwest Alaska have experienced unusually warm temperatures and steadily melting ice which have revealed many frozen animal specimens and archaeological artifacts.
Thanks to these developments, the Alaska Dispatch News is reporting that the first intact skull of what could be conclusive proof of this creature has been found.
The skull is much bigger than all known polar bear skulls and is elongated to the point of resembling a different creature entirely. According to archaeologist Anne Jensen who led the expedition which found the skull, this specimen could represent a previously unknown animal:
It looks different from your average polar bear. It could have been a member of a subspecies or a member of a different “race” in genetic terms similar to the varying breeds that are found among dogs — or possibly something else entirely.
The skull has been dated to between the years 670 and 800, making it the oldest known complete bear skull to be found in Alaska. While this could be proof of the legendary weasel bear, genetic testing is needed before any definitive conclusions can be drawn about the skull’s owner’s identity.