The Woolly Rhino is an extinct species commonly found throughout Europe and northern Asia during the last ice age. In a big surprise for researchers worldwide, melting permafrost in Siberia has revealed a well-preserved graveyard of frozen prehistoric animals, which include a woolly Rhino as well. Other animal carcasses recovered from the site include two cave lion cubs, a bison, a horse, a baby woolly Rhino, and the most intact woolly mammoth ever found. The widespread effects of climate change have brought these priceless specimens to the attention of the general public.
Researchers expect that this streak of discovery will continue over the next few decades as climate change is expected to make fast work of the age-old permafrost in the northern regions of our planet. Close to the place where the baby woolly rhino was found, residents have found the carcass of another animal of the same species. However, this time the body is 80 percent intact. The reddish-brown hair on the body has been preserved for tens of thousands of years. All the animal’s limbs are intact, and so are most of the internal organs, including its intestines.
The young Rhino was supposedly three and four years old and lived separately from its mother when it met its end. The researchers think that the Rhino most probably died due to drowning. They are still waiting for the radiocarbon dating results to figure out when it lived. They estimate it to be around 20,000 to 50,000 years old. The patchy fur on the animal is indicative of a very thick coat, which means that this particular Rhino died with its summer coat. However, this is just an educated guess, and it needs to be verified by lab analysis.
The horn of this Rhino indicates that it foraged for food on its own. The only other woolly Rhino found in this region was an even younger baby named Sasha. The coat on Sasha was more strawberry blonde than the coat on this carcass. There are still soft tissues in the back of the carcass, which are probably a remnant of its genitals or intestines. This will make it possible for the researchers to study the animal’s excreta, leading to more revelations about its food and the kind of environment it survived in.
The carcass will be sent to the capital Yakutia to perform further analysis; after that, it will be sent to Sweden, where researchers are working to sequence the genomes of multiple rhinos to understand better their past and the reasons as to why they went extinct.
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