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Woolly Rhinoceros - Coelodonta antiquitatis & Coelodonta tologoijensis
Woolly Rhinoceros - Coelodonta antiquitatis & Coelodonta tologoijensis

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Scientific classification 
Kingdom: Animalia 
Phylum: Chordata 
Class: Mammalia 
Order: Perissodactyla 
Family: Rhinocerotidae 
Genus: Coelodonta 
Species: Coelodonta antiquitatis 

The Woolly Rhino, (Coelodonta antiquitatis) first appeared some 350,000 years ago and may have survived until as recently as 10,000 years ago. Their fossils are not uncommon and have been discovered throughout Europe and Asia, although apparently they did not manage to extend their distribution into North America or to Ireland. Well-preserved remains have been discovered frozen in ice and buried in oil-saturated soils. At Staruni in what is now the Ukraine, a complete carcass of a female Woolly Rhino was discovered buried in the mud. The combination of oil and salt prevented the remains from decomposing allowing the soft tissues to remain intact.

Physical Characteristics
SizeWeight: 2 to 3 tons 
Height: 6 ft (2m) tall at shoulder 
Length: 10- 12.5 ft (3.0-3.8m) length of head and body 
HornThere are two horns. The front, larger (anterior) measured up to 3 ft (1m) and has a flattened shape from side to side , like a wooden plank. 
Other Features
Cave paintings suggest they may have had a band of darker fur around their middles. 
Common Names
Woolly Rhino: This rhinos entire body was covered with a thick and shaggy coat consisting of two types of hair, a thin dense undercoat and a long rigid covering hair. 
Scientific Name and Origin
Coelodonta antiquitatis 
Coelodonta: from the Greek 'hallow teeth' 
antiquitatis: from the Latin "antiquus" meaning "old" 

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Woolly Rhino fossil discovered at the Cotswold Water Park!

07/11/2008 17:07:04

Woolly rhino vertebra, with discoverer. 

November 2008. Wind, rain, and lots of mud did not put off more than 75 keen fossil hunters as they set off on a Fossil Hunt organised by the Cotswold Water Park Society. 

The group, ranging in age from 5 to well over 55 scoured the base of the gravel pit. Finds such as beautiful ammonites still intact with mother of pearl finish, huge bullet shaped belemnites (the remains of squid like creatures from the Jurassic period, c 150 million years) and fossilised wood were in abundance, and everyone went away with plenty of interesting specimens.

Drs Neville Hollingworth and Mark O'Dell, local palaeontologists leading the hunt, were both on hand to help identify and excavate some of the more tricky fossils.

Spectacular find

However, it goes to show that luck is often involved as the most exciting finds of the day were made by first time fossil hunters! James Fawbert and his 5 year old daughter unearthed the rarest specimen - a vertebra of an Ice Age woolly rhinoceros, which would have roamed the area about 50,000 years ago. This bone would have supported the head of this fiercesome creature, with its two huge horns.

Ice age deer
Pam Davey asked the experts to identify some bones she found, which looked extremely ‘modern' and was delighted to find they were actually the leg bone and vertebra from an Ice Age deer.

Quarrying has taken place in this area for the past 60 years, creating more than 140 lakes and over this time there have been some spectacular finds, including the now famous woolly mammoth skull, uncovered in a Cullimore pit near Ashton Keynes, Wiltshire in 2004. This can be seen along with other amazing local finds, such as mammoth teeth, and tusks in the Gateway Centre, near South Cerney. 
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Ice Age Beasts In Europe: Migration Of The Woolly Rhinoceros Earlier Than Assumed

ScienceDaily (Nov. 12, 2008) — The newly described skull of the oldest woolly rhinoceros in Europe shows that these giant creatures – with two impressively large horns on the bridge of their noses – once roamed across central Germany. The large shaggy mammals grazed at the foot of the Kyffhäuser range, whose unforested, rocky slopes loomed out of the broad, bleak plains of northern Thuringia 460,000 years ago. The climate at this time was icy cold and far drier than today.

At the time, the brow of a glacier existed only a few kilometres away, which expanded during the Elsterian ice age from Scandinavia towards the southwest and spread across the monotonous grassland. But well adapted creatures such as mammoths, reindeer, musk ox and other cold climate animals were able to survive in what was known as the mammoth steppe and found suitable food sources here. The uniform type of vegetation that emerged under these particular climatic conditions once stretched from the coasts of the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific and extended as far as central Europe in the west.

“This is the oldest woolly rhinoceros found in Europe, and it gives us a precise date for the first appearance of cold climate animals spreading throughout Asia and Europe during the ice ages. The characteristic species of mammals emerged together and across the continent”, is how palaeontologist Ralf-Dietrich Kahlke explains the finding’s significance.

The skull was discovered more than a century ago in a gravel pit at the foot of the Kyffhäuser range near Bad Frankenhausen, but it was found as more than 50 fragments. These have only now been pieced together at Weimar’s Senckenberg Research Institute to make this the most complete Coelodonta tologoijensis in the world. The reconstructed specimen provides the first evidence that this woolly rhinoceros species had advanced into Europe even before the first glacial stage. The animal was around 12 years old when its life ended about 460,000 years ago. It died in a melt-water delta flowing off the inland glacier that had advanced southwest as far as central Germany.

The ancestors of this large ice age mammal evolved around two million years earlier in the northern foothills of the Himalayas. For a long time Coelodonta lived exclusively in an area of central China around 6,000 kilometres away and east of Lake Baikal. The prevailing conditions at the time were marked by a continental dry climate and extreme seasonal temperature fluctuations, so the central Asian ancestors of the Bad Frankenhausen woolly rhinoceros were adapted to foraging for meagre steppe food and very well equipped for the winter cold.

The recently published Senckenberg study of the oldest rhinoceros from the central European mammoth steppe, by Ralf-Dietrich Kahlke and Frédéric Lacombat, found that woolly rhinoceroses continued to adapt to meet the conditions they experience throughout many millennia. The ‘original’ diet of Coelodonta two million years earlier was rather mixed, including the leaves of shrubs and trees, but as the landscape was increasingly desertified by changing climatic conditions the animals became prime specialists in browsing for steppe food growing lower down on the ground. “Analysis of the Frankenhausen specimen shows that Coelodonta tologoijensis carried its head low along the ground and had a lawnmower-like mouth with a huge set of grinding teeth. As the climate became colder, these animals became more efficient at utilising the available food ”, says Ralf-Dietrich Kahlke.

Kahlke, who is Head of the Weimar Department of Quaternary Palaeontology, and his co-author Frédéric Lacombat have investigated a number of woolly rhinoceros skulls from Asia and Europe. The facet-like stress marks on the impressively large frontal horns retrieved from permafrost soils show that the animals’ status symbol was not only used as a weapon against other great ice age fauna but was also used in ingesting food.

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Woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta tologoijensis).

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This artist's reconstruction shows a woolly rhinoceros grazing in the plains of northern Thuringia in Germany. 
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Apparently the evolution of the Woolly Rhino goes through three species (in order) : Coelodonta nihowanensis > Coelodonta tologoijensis > Coelodonta antiquitatis.

So I hope you dont mind me combining the info for the three in the one thread.

Comparison between woolly rhino forelimbs from Longdan, Northwestern China and Tologoi, Transbaikalian region 

Tao Deng, a, 

aInstitute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 643, Beijing 100044, China 

The fossil Coelodonta nihowanensis, found from the Late Pliocene loess at Longdan in the Linxia Basin (Gansu, China), is the earliest known member of the woolly rhino. The complete skull from Longdan shows that C. nihowanensis is a primitive species different from Coelodonta antiquitatis. The cranial and dental characters of C. nihowanensis are obviously distinct from those of Coelodonta tologoijensis, and the former has a smaller body size and more slender limb bones. The associate humerus, radius, and ulna, as well as associate carpals and metacarpals of C. nihowanensis found recently from Longdan further show that C. nihowanensis has different postcranial features from C. tologoijensis, and indicate that they belong to two different species. C. nihowanensis is apparently more primitive than C. tologoijensis, and the former has better running ability, which is consistent with the chronological distributions of the two woolly rhino species and the evolutionary trend of the genus Coelodonta. C. nihowanensis may be the ancestral form of C. tologoijensis. The woolly rhino originated in northern China, and then dispersed into northern Eurasia. C. nihowanensis gradually evolved into C. tologoijensis, and finally became C. antiquitatis.
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Woolly Rhino Fossil Discovery in Tibet Provides Important Clues to Evolution of Ice Age Giants

ScienceDaily (Sep. 1, 2011) — A new paper published in the journal Science reveals the discovery of a primitive woolly rhino fossil in the Himalayas, which suggests some giant mammals first evolved in present-day Tibet before the beginning of the Ice Age. The extinction of Ice Age giants such as woolly mammoths and rhinos, giant sloths, and saber-tooth cats has been widely studied, but much less is known about where these giants came from, and how they acquired their adaptations for living in a cold environment.

A team of geologists and paleontologists led by Xiaoming Wang from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) and Qiang Li of Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, uncovered a complete skull and lower jaw of a new species of woolly rhino (Coelodonta thibetana) in 2007, at the foothills of the Himalayas in southwestern Tibetan Plateau.

"Cold places, such as Tibet, Arctic, and Antarctic, are where the most unexpected discoveries will be made in the future -- these are the remaining frontiers that are still largely unexplored," said the NHM's Dr. Wang.

There are dual connections between the new paper and the Natural History Family of Museums (including the Natural History Museum and the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits). Dr. Wang contributed to NHM's Age of Mammals exhibition, which depicts the creation of the Himalayan Mountains and Tibetan Plateau, and subsequent climactic changes of the Pleistocene Ice Age. Additionally, the largest Ice Age megafauna collection in the world is excavated, researched, and displayed at the Page Museum.

The new rhino is 3.6 million years old (middle Pliocene), much older and more primitive than its Ice Age (Pleistocene) descendants in the mammoth steppes across much of Europe and Asia. The extinct animal had developed special adaptations for sweeping snow using its flattened horn to reveal vegetation, a useful behavior for survival in the harsh Tibetan climate. These rhinos lived at a time when global climate was much warmer and the northern continents were free of the massive ice sheets seen in the Ice Age later.

The rhino accustomed itself to cold conditions in high elevations and became pre-adapted for the future Ice Age climate. When the Ice Age eventually arrived around 2.6 million years ago, the new paper posits, the cold-loving rhinos simply descended from the high mountains and began to expand throughout northern Asia and Europe.

In addition to the new woolly rhino, the paleontologist team also uncovered extinct species of three-toed horse (Hipparion), Tibetan bharal (Pseudois, also known as blue sheep), chiru (Pantholops, also known as Tibetan antelope), snow leopard (Uncia), badger (Meles), as well as 23 other kinds of mammals.

The team's new fossil assemblage from Tibet offers new insights into the origin of the cold-adapted Pleistocene megafauna, which has usually been sought either in the arctic tundra or in the cold steppes elsewhere. This new evidence offers an alternative scenario: the harsh winters of the rising Tibetan Plateau may have provided the initial step towards cold-adaptation for several subsequently successful members of the late Pleistocene mammoth fauna in Europe, Asia, and to a lesser extent, North America. The Tibetan Plateau may have been another cradle of the Ice Age giants.

"This discovery clarifies the origin of the woolly rhinoceros -- and perhaps much of the now extinct, cold-adapted, Pleistocene Eurasian megafauna -- as the high-altitude environments of the Zanda Basin of the primordial Pliocene Himalayas," said H. Richard Lane of the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Earth Sciences.

Financial support for this research is provided by Chinese National Natural Science Foundation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Geographic Society, and National Science Foundation of the United States.

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Top: Woolly rhino skull and jaw. Bottom: Woolly rhino illustration by Julie Naylor.


Journal Reference:

Tao Deng, Xiaoming Wang, Mikael Fortelius, Qiang Li, Yang Wang, Zhijie J. Tseng, Gary T. Takeuchi, Joel E. Saylor, Laura K. Säilä, Guangpu Xie. Out of Tibet: Pliocene Woolly Rhino Suggests High-Plateau Origin of Ice Age Megaherbivores. Science, 2011; 333 (6047): 1285-1288 DOI: 10.1126/science.1206594 
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Prehistoric rhino reveals secrets

By Matt Walker
Editor, BBC Nature
6 December 2012 Last updated at 07:49 

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Did deep snow eventually do for the woolly rhino?

The preserved body of a woolly rhinoceros has revealed new insights into how this now extinct giant animal once lived.

The woolly rhino was once one of the most abundant large mammals living in Eurasia, but only a handful of preserved carcasses have been found.

Now an analysis of a female woolly rhino found preserved in Siberia reveals that the animal was a herbivore that grazed mainly on cereals, and was similar in size to today's Javan rhino.

However, it was slow to reproduce, had a short stubby tail and ears, and was likely driven to extinction in part due to its inability to wade through deeper blankets of snow, which became more common as the climate changed, say scientists.

Details of the discovery are published in the journal Biology Bulletin.

Woolly rhino (Coelodonta antiquitatis) remains have been found spanning Eurasia, from the UK in the west to Chukotka and Kamchatka in the Russian far east.

But few whole skeletons have been discovered and only four whole carcasses, including the animal's soft tissues as well as the bones, have survived.

These remains allowed scientists to determine that the woolly rhino had a long body and short legs, a flattened front horn and thick skin covered by a coat of thick fur.

Those insights have now been added to, following a study by Gennady Boeskorov from the Russian Academy of Sciences in Yakutsk.

He analysed a woolly rhino carcass first discovered in 2007, in the lower reaches of the Kolyma River. The animal was found buried at a depth of five to nine metres from the surface of the opening of a gold mine.

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Cave art depicting a woolly rhino in the Chauvet cave, France

The female rhino lived 39,000 years ago.

Her head, with two horns, remains together with much of her trunk and all four legs. Most internal organs have been lost, but her stomach and its contents are intact.

Dr Boeskorov studied the woolly rhino's features, comparing it to those of modern rhinos.

His study confirms that the woolly rhino had thick brown skin and fur, and was a heavy lumbering animal, weighing around 1.5 tons, with dimensions similar to that of a modern Javan rhino.

Its feet would have placed a pressure on the ground of 1.8kg per square centimetre, more than three times that of a modern moose.

The female rhino had an udder with two nipples, making it likely that woolly rhinos gave birth to one, or occasionally two calves.

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A cast of a woolly rhino carcass discovered in 1907 in Starunia, Ukraine

It also had a short, fur-covered tail compared to modern rhinos and short, lancet-shaped ears - much narrower than those of its living relatives. The ears match the shape of those drawn in artwork by Palaeolithic humans on cave walls. These shortened extremities are likely to have been adaptations to a cold climate.

But the snow in which the woolly rhino lived ultimately proved its undoing.

The rhino's thick skin and long fur made it initially well adapted to the cold, dry climate of the late Pleistocene.

However, its considerable body weight, short legs and the huge pressures imposed by its feet would have made tackling deep snow difficult.

Modern ungulates such as the saiga and musk ox find it difficult to move in snow layers thicker than 30cm.

If the snow reaches their bellies, these animals become almost helpless.

As the late Pleistocene gave way to the early Holocene, climate warming and moistening created deeper layers of snow in winter, and a similar fate is likely to have befallen the woolly rhino, said Dr Boeskorov.

"It is quite likely [this] factor played an important role in the extinction of the woolly rhinoceros," writes Dr Boeskorov in the journal.

As this ice and snow melted, the landscape of the time would also have become increasingly pitted with hollows and boggy banks, forming natural traps that woolly rhinos might have found impassable.

"In addition, the natural traps presented certain danger for such a short-legged and heavy creature."

"Presumably, this rhinoceros slumped, bogged down and drowned in such a trap."
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Woolly rhino site reveals ancient British temperature
By Michelle Warwicker
BBC Nature
6 March 2013 Last updated at 02:04

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The Staffordshire woolly rhino skeleton was one of Britain's most significant fossil finds, scientists say

Scientists studying an exceptionally well-preserved woolly rhinoceros have revealed details of what Britain's environment was like 42,000 years ago.

The beast's remains were discovered in Staffordshire in 2002, buried alongside other preserved organisms such as beetles and non-biting midges.

The research team used these climate-sensitive insects to calculate that summer temperatures in Britain would have averaged just 10C, and dropped to -22C in winter.

The results are published in the Journal of Quaternary Science.

The discovery of the preserved woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) skeleton in a quarry at Whitemoor Haye was "the most significant fossil find of a large mammal in Britain for over 100 years," said team leader Professor Danielle Schreve from Royal Holloway, University of London.

"Woolly rhino bones and teeth are not uncommon in Britain but they are frequently heavily gnawed by predators, especially spotted hyenas."

Alongside the woolly rhinoceros skeleton, palaeontologists uncovered remains of other mammals, such as mammoths and reindeer, as well as well-preserved insects.

The research team, comprising scientists from the UK and and Netherlands, analysed these fossils for clues about what the environment in Britain was like at the time of the organisms' death.

Britain's Arctic tundra

Radiocarbon dating confirmed that the rhinoceros and other organisms lived during the middle part of the last Ice Age, known as the Devensian glaciation in Britain.

But the presence of preserved beetles and midges at the site were "particularly important" for the teams' investigation. Prof Schreve explained, "they're very sensitive to changes in climate, so they can give us direct insight into prevailing temperatures at the time."

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Woolly rhino skeleton after its discovery in a Staffordshire quarry in 2002

According to the study: "the beetle remains are strongly indicative of severely cold and continental climates akin to Asia today."

Many of the fossilised insects no longer exist in Britain, with some now found only northern Siberia or the high plateaux of central Asia.

According to Prof Schreve, the climatic conditions in Britain 42,000 years ago were "slightly warmer... compared to the earlier and late parts of the Devensian, with summer temperatures around 8-11C but winter temperatures down as low as -16 to -22C".

During this era, Britain would have looked more like an Arctic tundra landscape, where grass and herbs sustained large grazing animals such as woolly mammoths, reindeer, bison and horses.

Predators including wolves and hyenas also roamed freely.

Untimely death

The quality of the woolly rhinoceros specimen investigated for the study, complete with plant remains still in its teeth, indicates that it was buried very rapidly after it died.

The teams' analysis showed that the individual was "at his peak" when he met his death.

"There is no evidence of disease or that he was hunted so that's why we think it was an accidental death," said Prof Schreve.

Researchers concluded that the animal may have met its demise after becoming stuck in quicksand while feeding at the edge of a water channel, or that it was cut off on part of a floodplain and drowned.

Woolly rhinoceros' stocky body, thick, woolly coat and short tail and ears helped them thrive in cold, dry conditions.

However, this dense body shape may have led to the beasts' eventual extinction: it would have been almost impossible for the animals to cope in the deep snow that arrived as the climate became warmer and wetter. 
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10,000-Year-Old Remains of Extinct Woolly Rhino Baby Discovered

by Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer | March 11, 2015 01:35pm ET

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Preserved body of Sasha the woolly rhino

The remains of a baby woolly rhino that roamed the Earth at least 10,000 years ago have been discovered in a frozen riverbank in Siberia, researchers said.

The rhino calf, nicknamed "Sasha" after the hunter and businessman who found it, is the only complete young specimen of the extinct species ever found, according to scientists at the Yakutian Academy of Sciences in Russia, to whom the creature was donated for study.

The researchers hope to extract DNA from the specimen to determine its placement on the mammal family tree. [See photos of Sasha, the baby woolly rhino]

"The newly found [calf] is about 1.5 meters long [4.9 feet] and 0.8 meters high [2.6 feet]," said study researcher Albert Protopopov, head of the mammoth fauna studies department of the Yakutian Academy of Sciences in Russia, as translated by Olga Potapova, the collections curator and manager at the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota. By contrast, adults of this species could reach up to 15 feet (4.5 m) long and 6 feet (1.9 m) high at the shoulders, Protopopov said.

A rare find

Since the 18th century, the remains of only a few adult woolly rhinos have been discovered. Two complete bodies without hair were found in Staruni in what is now Ukraine, and a headless, frozen mummy was found in eastern Siberia, Potapova said. Woolly rhinos were depicted in late Paleolithic cave paintings in Western Europe, which add to scientists' knowledge of what the animals looked like, she added.

But the remains of rhino calves are very rare and fragmented, and little to nothing is known about the young animals, Protopopov told Live Science, via Potapova. Woolly rhinos likely had very high infant mortality — "that’s why [Sasha] is a very lucky find for us," he said. 

The new remains are from a very young rhino, probably between 3 and 4 years old, said fellow researcher Evgeny Maschenko, of the Paleontological Institute in Moscow, as translated by Potapova.

"The young rhino mummy was covered by thick hair" and had two fist-size horns that were tightly attached to its skull, Maschenko said. Based on the size of its horns, Sasha had probably already been weaned from its mother, but it's not clear whether the calf was a male or female, he added.

Woolly rhinoceroses (Coelodonta antiquitatis) first appeared some 350,000 years ago during the Pleistocene epoch, which lasted from 2.59 million to 11,700 years ago. The animals fed on mostly low-growing herbaceous vegetation, and were widely found in the mammoth steppe, a vast cold and dry region spanning from Spain in the west to eastern Siberia in the east, and from subarctic latitudes in the north to the Mediterranean, southern Siberia and northern China in the south.

To extinction … and back?

Woolly rhinos lived at the same time as, and shared a habitat with, woolly mammoths, but the two species are not related. The woolly mammoth is a cousin of the modern Asian elephant, whereas the woolly rhino is most closely related to the modern rhino, Potapova said.

Woolly rhinos went extinct about 10,000 years ago. Some scientists believe overhunting was the cause, but the more likely culprit is climate change, which caused the disappearance of the animals' food sources and habitat, researchers said. Unlike other large mammals of the time — such as woolly mammoths, steppe bison, cave lions and native horses — woolly rhinos may not have been able to cross the land bridge now occupied by the Bering Strait, because they were unable to adapt to the tundra climate, the researchers said.

If the researchers can obtain DNA from Sasha, they plan to sequence the animal's genome. This would allow scientists to identify the rhino's closest relatives, and determine whether there were one or two species of woolly rhino in the Late Pleistocene, Protopopov said.

There's been a lot of buzz among scientists lately that it might be possible to bring extinct animals "back to life" by cloning their DNA and breeding them in a related, living animal, a process called de-extinction. Some scientists have suggested using this technique to bring back the woolly mammoth, but could it also be used to revive the woolly rhino?

Currently, it seems too complicated, Protopopov said. Traditional cloning methods won't work for this purpose, he said, because even if his team can reconstruct the complete genome of the rhino specimen, there is no close modern relative with which to perform crossbreeding.

Besides, Maschenko said, even if humans could bring these creatures back from extinction, "should we proceed?"
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Woolly rhino neck ribs provide clues about their decline and eventual extinction
Fossils point to rare condition in the extinct species, possibly caused by inbreeding and harsh conditions during pregnancy. Monitoring vertebrae in modern rhinos could indicate the level of extinction risk

Date: August 29, 2017
Source: PeerJ
A study reports on the incidence of abnormal cervical (neck) vertebrae in woolly rhinos, which strongly suggests a vulnerable condition in the species. Given the considerable birth defects that are associated with this condition, the researchers argue it is very possible that developmental abnormalities contributed towards the eventual extinction of these late Pleistocene rhinos.

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Arrows indicate large articulation facets of cervical ribs on a fossil cervical vertebra of a woolly rhino of Naturalis, Leiden.
Credit: Frietson Galis, CC BY 4.0

Researchers from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden examined woolly rhino and modern rhino neck vertebrae from several European and American museum collections and noticed that the remains of woolly rhinos from the North Sea often possess a 'cervical' (neck) rib -- in contrast to modern rhinos.

The study, published in the open access journal PeerJ today, reports on the incidence of abnormal cervical vertebrae in woolly rhinos, which strongly suggests a vulnerable condition in the species. Given the considerable birth defects that are associated with this condition, the researchers argue it is very possible that developmental abnormalities contributed towards the eventual extinction of these late Pleistocene rhinos.

In modern animals, the presence of a 'cervical rib' (a rib attached to a cervical vertebra) is an unusual event, and is cause for further investigation. Though the rib itself is relatively harmless, this condition is often associated with inbreeding and adverse environmental conditions during pregnancy.

Frietson Galis, one of the authors of the peer-reviewed study, found a remarkably high percentage of these neck ribs in the woolly mammoth, published in a previous study.

"This aroused our curiosity to also check the woolly rhino, a species that, like the woolly mammoth lived during the late Pleistocene and similarly died out," said Alexandra van der Geer, one of the authors of the study. "The woolly rhino bones were all dredged from the North Sea and river deltas in the Netherlands. We knew these were just about the last rhinos living there, so we suspected something could be wrong here as well. Our work now shows that there was indeed a problem in the woolly rhino population."

The absence of cervical ribs in the modern sample is by no means evidence that rhino populations today are healthy. Museum collections are based on rhino specimens that were collected at least five decades ago. Rhinoceros numbers are dwindling extremely fast, especially the last two decades, resulting in near extinction for some species and the total extinction of the western black rhinoceros.

"Our study suggests that monitoring the health of the vertebrae in rhinos has the potential to timely detect developmental errors that indicate the level of extinction risk," said Frietson Galis.

Story Source: PeerJ. "Woolly rhino neck ribs provide clues about their decline and eventual extinction: Fossils point to rare condition in the extinct species, possibly caused by inbreeding and harsh conditions during pregnancy. Monitoring vertebrae in modern rhinos could indicate the level of extinction risk." ScienceDaily. (accessed August 30, 2017).

Journal Reference:
van der Geer and Galis. High incidence of cervical ribs indicates vulnerable condition in Late Pleistocene woolly rhinoceroses. PeerJ, 2017 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.3684

Mammals as a rule have seven cervical vertebrae, a number that remains remarkably constant. Changes of this number are associated with major congenital abnormalities (pleiotropic effects) that are, at least in humans, strongly selected against. Recently, it was found that Late Pleistocene mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) from the North Sea have an unusually high incidence of abnormal cervical vertebral numbers, approximately ten times higher than that of extant elephants. Abnormal numbers were due to the presence of large cervical ribs on the seventh vertebra, indicating a homeotic change from a cervical rib-less vertebra into a thoracic rib-bearing vertebra. The high incidence of cervical ribs indicates a vulnerable condition and is thought to be due to inbreeding and adverse conditions that may have impacted early pregnancies in declining populations. In this study we investigated the incidence of cervical ribs in another extinct Late Pleistocene megaherbivore from the North Sea and the Netherlands, the woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis). We show that the incidence of abnormal cervical vertebral numbers in the woolly rhinoceros is unusually high for mammals (15,6%, n = 32) and much higher than in extant Rhinoceratidae (0%, n = 56). This indicates that woolly rhinoceros lived under vulnerable conditions, just like woolly mammoths. The vulnerable condition may well have contributed to their eventual extinction. 
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IS there a way or a permission to put/copy this awesome information to the Ice Age discoveries Thread ? That would be a terrific information sources for the thread and would be a delight for the browser !

Thanks !
Just a normal guy who want to learn things !

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