Welcome Sasha, The Baby Woolly Rhino!

Not long ago, actually quite recently, a chance discovery was made in permafrost. First mistaken for a deer carcass, half submerged, was the small and fragile body of a 10,000 year old baby woolly rhino. It was estimated that it was about 18 months old when it passed away, and then spent the next 9,998 years (and some change) frozen in the Sakha Republic.
Sasha, the name of the baby woolly rhino, is actually the first baby of the kind found!
Does this call for a birthday celebration? Absolutely!

Baby woolly rhino was around during mammoth era

The woolly rhino walked at the same time as the impressive mammoth, but not always on the same ground. The mammoth reigned over northern Asia, most of Europe, and North America. The woolly rhino has only been found throughout Europe and Asia. But, like its mammoth cousins, it never managed to travel to North America (as far as we know).

Sasha’s species died out due to climate change and hunting by early humans.

The woolly rhino species was wiped out with climate change and hunting by early humans.
When Sasha was found, half exposed, half submerged in the ice, some lucky scavengers got to nibble on meat that was 100 centuries old.
Like with mammoth discoveries, babies are not common paleontology finds. A few adult woolly rhinos have been found, but surprisingly, we generally tend to see them more in cave drawings. And finds are so very rare, to the degree that this latest find is the first in almost 8 years.

Sasha’s modern-day descendants are in trouble

We need to understand the finding a little more. 10,000 years is a long time to be in the ice. What has happened for animals during those years shows a huge amount of evolution and resilience. This includes the evolution of the rhinoceros. The baby woolly rhino has come back to life just in time to see the end of that evolution. In fact, according to the International Rhino Foundation, in 2013, there were an estimated 44 Javan Rhinos individuals in the wild. The Sumatran Rhino is cited as having no more than 100 individuals remaining.
That was two years ago. In fact, in the wake of the baby woolly rhino, Science Advances has released a study that declares we are coming upon Earth’s sixth mass extinction. That means waving goodbye to many endangered species, including what is left of the rhinos.

This find of the baby woolly is a huge step towards DNA analysis, and understanding the Pleistocene epoch. Maybe the discovery can even help us know what to expect during the sixth mass extinction. So, welcome home, Sasha! I hope you show us how to help your modern day relatives.



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