Digging History

First ever remains of baby woolly rhino discovered in Siberia

Academy of Sciences Republic of Sakha

 (Academy of Sciences Republic of Sakha)

You might have heard of the woolly mammoth, but paleontologists have unearthed a well-preserved baby woolly rhinoceros in Siberia’s Sakha Republic. The remains are believed to be at least 10,000 years old. The first images from the rare find were released by the Academy of Sciences in Yakutsk, which is the capital of the Sakha Republic, reports the Siberian Times. This is the first time that the remains of a baby woolly rhino has been discovered.

The remains of the animal were preserved in permafrost, and were discovered last September by Alexander “Sasha” Banderov, a hunter and businessman, who along with a friend, thought that the carcass belonged to a reindeer. The rhino was discovered on the right bank of a stream that flows into the Semyulyahk River. The rhino has appropriately been named “Sasha.”

“We were sailing past a ravine and noticed hair hanging on top of it … The part of the carcass that stuck out of the ice was eaten by wild animals, but the rest of it was inside the permafrost and preserved well,” Banderov said.

Researchers at the academy hope to extract DNA from the creature’s remains. While scientists are still determining the animal’s age, they estimate it to be around 18 months old. The animal is in very good condition, with its nostrils, mouth, an ear, and an eye clearly visible. Complete results of the rhino’s age and when it died will most likely be available within the next six months, researchers said.

“The find is absolutely unique,” said Albert Protopopov, head of the Mammoth Fauna Deaprtment of Sakha Republic Academy of Sciences. “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.”

“Woolly rhinos are less studied than mammoths,” Protoppov added. “We are hoping Sasha, the rhino, will give us a lot of answers to questions of how they grew and developed, what conditions they lived in, and which of the modern day animals is the closest to them.”