Siberian hunters have stumbled upon the remains of a 10,000-year-old baby wooly rhino. It's the first discovery of its kind, and one of only several wooly rhino specimens ever found.
As reported in The Siberian Times, the rhino, dubbed "Sasha," was about 18 months old when it died. Its wool was well preserved, while an ear, one eye, and mouth remain intact. The paleontologists were able to recover the entire skull, the head, soft tissues, and well-preserved teeth. The remnants of two horns were also found on the now-extinct creature. A sizeable portion of the rhino protruded from the permafrost and was likely eaten by wild animals.
The wooly rhino was discovered by hunters on the right bank of a stream flowing in Semyulyakh River. At first, they thought it was the remains of a reindeer, but after noticing the horn on the upper jaw they came to the realization that they had discovered something far more interesting and important. The hunters immediately contacted paleontologists at the Mammoth Fauna Department of the Yakutian Academy of Sciences.
The wooly rhino just moments after it was discovered.
The Siberian Times explains just how special this discovery really is:
Albert Protopopov, Head of the Mammoth Fauna Department of Sakha Republic Academy of Sciences, said: 'The find is absolutely unique. We can count a number of adult woolly rhinos found around the world on fingers of one hand. A baby rhino was never found before.
'There was only one case in the 21st century when we found a frozen carcass of a grown up woolly rhino in Yakutia. It was in 2007 in Kolyma.
'In the 20th century there were carcasses of woolly mammoths found in Verkhoyansky and Vilyuisky districts, but they were mummified and therefore not usable for studies.'
Sasha has now been handed over to scientists at the Academy of Sciences in Yakutsk, the capital of the Sakha Republic. Experts are hoping to extract DNA from the remains.
Wooly rhinos, which roamed Europe and northern Asia, went extinct about 10,000 years ago, owing to climate change, diseases, and possibly human hunting.
Read the entire article at The Siberian Times.
Images: Academy of Sciences Republic of Sakha/Alexander Banderov via Siberian Times.