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Juvenile Woolly Rhino Carcass Found in Siberia

The Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha, via Siberian Times

Last summer, Alexander “Sasha” Banderov and Simeon Ivanov were sailing on a stream flowing into Siberia’s Semyulyakh River when they saw something odd. The hunters were passing a ravine and noticed hair hanging down from the top right bank. They thought it might belong to the remains of a reindeer, but they couldn’t be sure—whatever it was, it was too far away for them to get a good look. When they returned to the spot in September, however, the ice had thawed, and the chunk containing the carcass had fallen onto the riverbank, allowing the hunters to get close enough to figure out what the carcass was. “We saw a horn on its upper jaw and realized it must be a rhino,” Banderov told the Siberian Times. The carcass is only the second woolly rhinoceros specimen ever found, and the first ever calf.

Though the exposed part of the carcass had been gnawed on by animals, the rest of the carcass was in pristine condition. Banderov and Ivanov took the carcass home and placed it in a glacier to keep it cold (who needs a freezer when you live in Siberia?), then called scientists in the Mammoth Fauna Department at the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha, Yakutia, 1800 miles away. This week, the museum held a press conference announcing the incredible find.

Woolly rhinos roamed Europe and Northern Asia during the Pleistocene Epoch before they went extinct 10,000 years ago, but specimens, even incomplete ones, are incredibly rare. “We know nothing about baby rhinos. Even to find a skull of a baby rhino is very lucky indeed,” Albert Protopopov, head of the Mammoth Fauna Department, said. “So far we didn't have a chance to work even with a tooth of a baby rhino, and now we have the whole skull, the head, soft tissues, and well preserved teeth. … We are hoping Sasha the rhino will give us a lot of answers to questions of how they grew and developed, what conditions they lived in, and which of the modern day animals is the closest to them.”

Scientists plan to try to extract DNA from the preserved remains. They believe the rhino—which they’ve named Sasha—died from falling into a pit, and was around 18 months old at the time of its death.

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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