The well-preserved carcass of the woolly rhino was found in permafrost. (Valery Plotnikov/Mammoth Fauna Study Department at the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia/AP)

The well-preserved carcass of the woolly rhino was found in permafrost. (Valery Plotnikov/Mammoth Fauna Study Department at the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia/AP)

That’s one icy woolly rhino! (Valery Plotnikov/Mammoth Fauna Study Department at the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia/AP)

That’s one icy woolly rhino! (Valery Plotnikov/Mammoth Fauna Study Department at the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia/AP)

Cave drawings of animal figures, including a rhino, are seen in the life-sized replica of Grotte Chauvet in southern France. (AP/Claude Paris)

Cave drawings of animal figures, including a rhino, are seen in the life-sized replica of Grotte Chauvet in southern France. (AP/Claude Paris)

A skeleton of a woolly rhino (Didier Descouens/CC BY-SA 4.0)

A skeleton of a woolly rhino (Didier Descouens/CC BY-SA 4.0)

This drawing shows a charging woolly rhino. (Szymon Górnicki/CC BY-SA 4.0)

This drawing shows a charging woolly rhino. (Szymon Górnicki/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Found! Woolly Rhino

Posted: March 1, 2021

Permafrost melts in Yakutia, Russia. What’s that underneath? It isn’t pretty . . . but it’s pretty well-preserved. Scientists study the icy slab of meat. Their suspicions prove true. They’ve uncovered an ancient woolly rhinoceros!

What a find! Almost no other specimens of the woolly rhino have held together this well for such a long time. Thanks to permafrost—permanently frozen soil—the carcass still has most of its soft tissues. This old rhino still sports part of its intestines, some thick hair, and a lump of fat. One of its two horns was found next to it. That’s incredible by itself. The horns usually decompose quickly, says paleontologist Valery Plotnikov.

This woolly rhino joins several other species people have found in melting Russian ice. Scientists keep busy making major discoveries of mammoths, woolly rhinos, ancient foals, Ice Age wolves, and cave lion cubs.

A local farmer first found the woolly rhino carcass in August. In December, scientists were still waiting for ice roads in the Arctic region to become passable. The rhino remains are headed to a lab for studies. The rhino was likely three or four years old when it died. How long have its remains waited in the ice? Scientists will use radiocarbon studies in the lab to try to figure that out.

The carcass was found on the bank of the Tirekhtyakh River in Siberia. Another woolly rhino died nearby. How do we know? Scientists found the neighboring animal there in 2014. They named that specimen Sasha. Sasha, unlike this brownish-furred woolly rhino, had a coat of strawberry blonde.