Melting Permafrost Gives Up Well-Preserved Ancient Woolly Rhino

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Melting Russian Permafrost Yields New Woolly Rhino Specimen

by Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com

A shockingly well-preserved woolly rhinoceros has emerged from the thawing muck of the Russian permafrost, reports Valeria Sukhova for the Siberian Times.

Valerii Plotnikov, a mammoth researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences, tells RT’s Jonny Tickle that this may be the best-preserved example of the extinct Ice Age mammal ever found.

There are soft tissues in the back of the carcass, possibly genitals and part of the intestine,” he tells RT. “This makes it possible to study the excreta, which will allow us to reconstruct the paleoenvironment of that period.

Plotnikov tells local Russian outlet Yakutia 24 that the woolly rhino specimen includes all four limbs, its horn and even some of its woolly coat, according to report from Reuters. The scientist also says wear marks on the horn suggest the creature may have used its bony protrusion to gather food, perhaps scraping away snow to reach tender greenery underneath.

Plotnikov tells the Siberian Times that the animal looks to have died young at three or four years of age and likely drowned. “The gender of the animal is still unknown,” he adds.

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