Alexander Banderov, a hunter in Siberia, uncovered the remains of a baby woolly rhinoceros in September 2014. Scientists have since named the animal Sasha, although the animal’s sex has not been determined. A juvenile woolly rhinoceros has never been found before.
According to The Siberian Times, Sasha was about 18 months old when it died. Woolly rhinos became extinct about 10,000 years ago.
Sasha was found on the bank of a stream near the Semyulyakh River by Banderov and a friend.
“We were sailing past a ravine and noticed hair hanging on the top of it,” Banderov said. “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.”
Scientists aren’t sure what killed Sasha, but its body is surprisingly intact. Sasha’s fur is preserved, and an ear, one eye, both nostrils and a mouth are visible.
“The find is absolutely unique,” said Albert Protopopov, head of the Mammoth Fauna Department at Russia's Sakha Republic Academy of Sciences. "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."
In the coming months, scientists from Russia and beyond will help study Sasha.