Today there are only five surviving species of rhino, although in the past there have been as many as 250…
Today there are only five surviving species of rhino, although in the past there have been as many as 250 species at different times. Weighing up to 3.5 tons, Elasmotherium sibiricum was undoubtedly one of the most impressive. It has long been assumed that this amazing animal killed well before the last ice age. Its disappearance before the great megafauna extinction that saw the end of the woolly Irish moose and sabered cat, however, a new study has challenged the date of this creature dead.
Prof Adrian Lister, Research Scientist at the Natural History Museum, said, “This megafaunal extinction event did not really start about 40,000 years ago. So Elasmotherium with its apparent extinction date of 100,000 years ago or more, has not taken into account as part of the same event.
We dated some copies ̵
1; like the beautiful complete skull we have at the museum – and to our surprise they came in less than 40,000 years old. ”
Prof Lister then collaborated with researchers from the UK, the Netherlands and Russia, totaling a total of 23 copies. Radio carbonate results were achieved by pioneering methods, showing that this species survived at least 39,000 years ago and possibly as late as 35,000 years ago.
Further studies have also revealed more about the specific biology and possible behavior. The researchers studied the stable isotope ratios in the rhino’s teeth, which meant watching the levels of different carbon and nitrogen isotopes and then comparing them with different plants so that they could decide what the animals ate. The results confirm that the “Siberian unicorn” probably digs on tough dry grass.
Elasmotheriums last days were shared with early modern people and Neanderthals . However, it is unlikely that the presence of humans was the cause of extinction. Instead, it is more likely that dramatic fluctuations in the climate during this period, combined with the specialized pasture market and the rhino’s naturally low population number, drove the species to the edge.
Adrian colleagues in Australia were also able to extract DNA from some fossils, for the first time, some DNA has ever been recovered from E. Siberian . This has helped determine a debate about where the Siberian unicorn, along with all other members of the Elastrotherium genus, fits the rhino evolutionary tree. The ancient group is divided from the modern group of rhinos around 43 million years ago, making the Siberian unicorn the last species of a very distinct and old waistband.
The result of the study has been published in Nature Ecology & Evolution .
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