Russian Hunters Discover 10,000-year-old Frozen Woolly Rhino in River

   02.27.15

Paleontologists are calling a recent find in the Russian region of Yakutia a “sensation.” Last September, Aleksandr Banderov and his hunting party were traveling near the Semyulyakh River when they uncovered the preserved carcass of an adolescent wholly rhinoceros, a species that roamed the frozen landscapes of Europe and northern Asia during the last Ice Age. The hunters initially thought it was a reindeer frozen in the ice, but quickly realized it was something much older.

“We were sailing past a ravine and noticed hair hanging on the top of it,’ Alexander told The Siberian Times. “At first we thought it was a reindeer’s carcass, but after it thawed and fell down we saw a horn on its upper jaw and realized it must be a rhino. 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.”

The hunters recently presented the remains to the Russian Academy of Science in Yakutsk, where experts praised the find as unique.

“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,” said Albert Protopopov, head of the academy’s Mammoth Fauna Department.

Larger than modern-day rhinos and more suited to extreme cold and harsh environments, the woolly rhino first appeared about 3.6 million years ago. Weighing up to an estimated 4,000 pounds and equipped with 24-inch-long horns, these intimidating creatures co-existed with early humans and were often hunted. Yet for all their strength, the woolly rhino became extinct over 10,000 years ago. Unlike the woolly mammoth, little is known about this species since few specimens have ever been retrieved. Those that have were often mummified to a point where study was impossible, and up until now, no calf has ever been found.

RT reported that experts at the Yakutsk academy will attempt to extract DNA from the calf’s remains and try to come up with a more accurate date on when the creature died. Nicknamed “Sasha,” researchers say the calf died at least 10,000 years ago and may have been 18 months old when it perished.

You can see a video of the rhino below.

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