Well preserved woolly rhino is examined | Polarjournal
The carcass of a juvenile woolly rhinoceros found in the permafrost on the banks of the Tirekhtyakh River in the Yakutia region of eastern Siberia in August 2020.

Thawing permafrost released a glacial woolly rhinoceros in August 2020. The age of the find is estimated to be up to 20,000 years. The carcass recovered in the Republic of Yakutia in the far north of Russia even still contained some internal organs. According to the scientists involved, this makes it the best preserved woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) found in this region so far. It was now presented to the media on January 26.

This is what a woolly rhinoceros is supposed to have looked like 20,000 years ago. Along with the woolly mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros was one of the characteristic animals of the ice-age landscapes. The rhinoceros species became extinct about 12,000 years ago along with numerous other larger animal species. (Image: Julie Naylor / Natural History Museum of Los Angeles)

The examinations made on the spot suggest that it is a juvenile of three to four years of age. The woolly rhinoceros is thought to have drowned in a swamp about 20,000 years ago, possibly while fleeing predators. In addition to bits of hazel-colored fur and soft tissue remains, the researchers also recovered teeth, fat and even its small horn. “The young rhino was apparently living separately from its mother when it perished,” project leader Valery Plotnikov of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) told to the newspaper The Siberian Times.

The sensational discovery was brought to Yakutsk after the formation of the ice roads in winter and presented there to the media. (Image: The Siberian Times)

The carcass is to be examined

The uniquely preserved young rhinoceros with intact brain found last summer in northeastern Yakutia is at least 20,000 years old. Since that time it has always been frozen and thawed for the first time when it was found.

The young rhinoceros with thick hazel-colored hair, a horn and an upper jaw was found in deposits of permafrost on the river Tirekhtyakh, (Yakutia).

The sensational discovery was brought to Yakutsk when ice roads formed in late autumn. So it could be studied and presented to the media on January 26, 2021.

“The body of the juvenile woolly rhinoceros is about 236 centimetres long, which is about a metre less than an adult animal. The shoulder height is about 130 centimeters, which is 20 to 25 centimeters lower than an adult woolly rhinoceros,” Dr. Gennady Boeskorov of the Academy of Sciences in Yakutia told The Siberian Times newspaper.

In the east of Russia at the Tirekhtyakh River the woolly rhinoceros was discovered and excavated. (Graphic: Heiner Kubny)

The degree of preservation of the rhinoceros is unique in that the entire right side was left intact by permafrost and even subcutaneous fat is present. Eighty percent of the rhino’s carcass is intact, making the find the best preserved woolly rhino. His gender has yet to be defined.

A rhino horn was found next to the carcass. (Photo: Valery Plotnikov)

The cause of death could be drowning in a river or bog after being chased by predators, researchers from the Yakutia Academy of Scientists said, as there is evidence of teeth marks on its skin. But the exact background has yet to be determined. The find is unique, as no young woolly rhinoceros has ever been discovered before. In the Republic of Sakha, spectacular finds from the ice ages have been discovered again and again for years. Mostly they are single parts of mammoths. Especially the huge tusks are popular, because they can be sold expensively. A host of fossil hunters, mostly locals from the region, search the thawing permafrost and the shores of rivers and the Arctic Ocean for the remains of Ice Age giants.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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