Copy of a rhinoceros cave painting from cave of Font-de-Gaume, Dordogne, France.
Click on image for full size
Sketch by Lisa Gardiner
Digging Woolly Rhinos!
News story originally written on November 13, 2002
For days, scientists have been digging in an English quarry and so far they have dug the front half of a woolly rhinoceros out of rocks that are at least 30,000 years old. They expect that they will find the bones from the rear half of the extinct animal with a bit more digging!
Today rhinos are not woolly at all and they live in warm places like Africa, but during the last Ice Age (about 50,000 to 10,000 years ago), woolly rhinos lived in cold northern places such as England. Ancient humans living in Europe made paintings of woolly rhinos on the walls of caves that look like the picture on the left. There are no more woolly rhinos alive today. They became extinct about 10,000 years ago.
These woolly rhino fossils are really amazing because the skeleton is very complete and well preserved. The bones were not chewed and broken into pieces by predators like many other woolly rhino fossils. The fossils are so well preserved that there is even plant material still stuck to its teeth, giving clues to its last meal! “The reason it is so well preserved,” said paleontologist Andy Currant, “is probably because it froze immediately after it died and this stopped it being broken up.”
Since they started digging the fossil rhino, they have found in nearby rocks the fossils of three other rhinos and other large animals such as mammoth, reindeer, horse, and bison as well as plant and insect fossils.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on October 29th at 2:19 p.m. EST. The weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit. This was the United States' 123rd...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials want an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting to be...more
A coronal mass ejection (CME) happened on the Sun early last month. The material that was thrown out from this explosion passed the ACE spacecraft. The SWICS instrument on ACE has produced a new and very...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service called forests the "heart and lungs of the world." This is because forests filter air and water pollution, absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen, and maintain...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible at the same time in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see. You won't want to miss this!...more