Nov 2, 2023 at 9:12 PM Update: 2 hours ago
Scientists have been able to find out what the woolly rhinoceros looked like thanks to DNA residues in fecal fossils. This species has been extinct for ten thousand years.
Rhino DNA remains have been found in the fossilized feces of cave hyenas. These predators hunted the rhinos. Thanks to the remains, scientists were able to recreate the genes of the rhino. That way they found out what the animal looked like.
The scientists published their research in the scientific journal Biology Letters. This is published by the leading Royal Society, the British academy of sciences.
By replicating the genes, the researchers hope to learn more about how the woolly rhino lived. They want to investigate how the animal dealt with changes in the environment, their food and the climate.
The scientists call the fossilized poop “a gold mine.” From leftover feces, scientists can deduce not only what people and animals ate, but also what diseases, viruses and parasites they had. They can also map the physical changes that have occurred over thousands of years.
The woolly rhino lived for almost 500,000 years in what is today Europe. Between 250,000 and 40,000 years ago the species also occurred in the area now called the Netherlands. The woolly rhino went extinct about 10,000 years ago. Because complete skeletons have previously been found, scientists already knew that the animal existed.
The skeleton of a woolly rhinoceros in a museum. Photo: Getty Images
Beeld: Getty Images
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