Best Preserved Ice Age Woolly Rhino Discovered in Siberia
In 2011 the BBC reported on the discovery of the “oldest known” woolly rhino fossil that was found on the cold Tibetan plateau in the Himalayas. That creature was dated to an astonishing “3.6 million years ago” and researchers determined it was well adapted to the cold thanks to its thick, shaggy fur, short ears and legs, and a massive body, which all served to lessen heat loss. Now, an ice age woolly rhino foal, known as the “Lena horse,” has melted from the permafrost in the Batagaika crater in Yakutia, Siberia.
The woolly rhinoceros ( Coelodonta antiquitatis ) was a large mammal that inhabited the northern Eurasian tundra during the Pleistocene epoch until about 10,000 years ago when it became extinct at the end of the last ice age . Stone Age humans hunted woolly rhinos and left pictures of them on cave walls dating to 30,000 years ago, and fossils and several well-preserved woolly rhino corpses have been found in frozen gravel across Siberia over the last two decades.
Discovered in August 2020 in Siberia, researchers explained that the woolly rhino’s soft tissues were still intact. ( The Siberian Times )
Best Preserved Woolly Rhino Specimen Ever Discovered
The Siberian Times reported yesterday that the ancient carcass was discovered in August 2020 in permafrost on the bank of the Tirekhtyakh river, in the Abyisk district of Siberia. It was near to this location that in 2014 the frozen remains of another young woolly rhino was recovered, which became known as Sasha. The researchers who studied Sasha were able to test food remains in her stomach and determine that she had lived about 34,000 years ago. The newly discovered ancient woolly rhino carcass, however, is being described as being among “the best-preserved specimens of the woolly rhino found to date.”
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The researchers were surprised to discover that most of the giant creature’s soft tissues were still intact, along with its intestines, a lump of fat, some thick hair and one of its horns. Dr. Valery Plotnikov, a paleontologist from the Russian Academy of Sciences , told Yakutia 24 TV that the woolly rhino has “very thick, short underfur, and that it was probably three or four years old when it died.” Furthermore, evidence suggests it is very likely the young rhino “could have drowned, in the summer.”
Primary research of the animal has failed to identify its gender and the team of researchers await the results of radiocarbon analysis to determine exactly when it lived. However, Dr. Plotnikov thinks the most likely range of dates is between “20,000 and 50,000 years ago,” but more precise dating will be possible once radiocarbon studies have been completed. The team of scientists are currently waiting for ice roads in the arctic to become passable so that they might deliver the animal carcass to a laboratory for intensive studies next month.
As the ice inside the permafrost increasingly melts across Siberia we will probably continue to see a spike in discoveries such as this woolly rhino. ( The Siberian Times )
The Global Warming Chestnut
According to The Guardian , as the ice inside the permafrost increasingly melts across vast areas of Siberia, it is because of “global warming” that we have seen such a spike in the discoveries woolly rhinos and mammoths. However, The Guardian makes no mention of a possibly “warming climate,” like it does from time to time, or to the superior scanning technologies employed on the field, or to the skills of the archaeologists who have dedicated their lives to understanding where to search to stand the best chance of finding the remains of these now extinct species. Nope, just “global warming” which is becoming almost facepalm-able, if that is even a word.
Scientists have been wary about the impact melting permafrost would have in furthering greenhouse gas warming if the Earth continues to warm. According to a recent article in Forbes, and to balance any global warming fears that you might have concerning the melting permafrost, the recent research suggests “that melting permafrost may not have a significant impact on increasing temperatures.”
The old-school concern was that heat-trapping methane gas was being released into the atmosphere and heating it up, but now, the latest research study determines that methane “hydrates in the ocean sediment and “never” makes it to the ocean surface. It simply dissolves into the ocean water as trapped gas or is oxidized by microbes in the ocean.”
So, knowing this, let us focus on what “we” do to cause global warming , and what “we” can do to reduce carbon emissions and waste, and let the mainstream media get on with worrying about the effects of melting permafrost.
Top image: The woolly rhino carcass was discovered in Siberia with its internal organs in excellent condition. Source: The Siberian Times
By Ashley Cowie