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Carcass of a juvenile woolly rhino
The carcass has most of its soft tissues still intact, including part of the intestines, thick woolly hair and a lump of fatImage: Department for the Study of Mammoth Fauna/REUTERS

Scientists discover intact Ice Age woolly rhino in Siberia

December 30, 2020

Paleontologists have found one of the best-preserved specimens of the Ice Age animal to date in Russia's extreme north. They dated the carcass as anywhere from 20,000-to 50,000-years-old.

https://p.dw.com/p/3nOPP

Scientists in Siberia have discovered a well-preserved Ice Age woolly rhino that likely roamed Russia's extreme north thousands of years ago, local media reported on Wednesday.

The carcass was first revealed in August by melting permafrost in the diamond-producing region of Yakutia.

It is among the best-preserved specimens of the Ice Age animal found to date. Russian paleontologist Valery Plotnikov said the rhino was discovered complete with all its limbs, some of its organs including part of the intestines, its tusk, a lump of fat and even its wool, Russian news agency Yakutia 24 reported.

The tooth of the young woolly rhino
The tooth of the young woolly rhino Image: Department for the Study of Mammoth Fauna/REUTERS

Erosion marks detected on the tusk indicates that the rhino probably used it to gather food, Plotnikov added. The rhino was likely 3- or 4-years-old when it died. Plotnikov said the young rhino likely drowned.

Climate change prompts discoveries

The carcass is estimated to be anywhere from 20,000- to 50,000-years-old. More precise dating will be possible once it is delivered to a lab for radiocarbon studies next month, when ice roads in the Arctic region become passable.

Carcass of a juvenile woolly rhino
The carcass is among the best-preserved specimens of the Ice Age animal found to date Image: Department for the Study of Mammoth Fauna of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha/REUTERS

The rhino was found on the bank of the Tirekhtyakh river in the Abyisk district, close to the area where another young woolly rhino was recovered in 2014. Researchers said that specimen was 34,000 years old.

Recent years  have seen similar major finds  of woolly rhinos, mammoths,  Ice Age foal, and cave lion cubs as the permafrost increasingly melts across vast areas of Siberia because of global warming. Climate change is warming the Arctic at a faster pace than anywhere else in the world.

mvb/nm (Reuters, AP)

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