In the arctic tundra of northeastern Siberia lies a graveyard of a now-extinct species of megafauna, the woolly rhinoceros, dating back 50,000 years. Now, a new genomic analysis of the remains of 14 of these fantastical furry yellow creatures shows that climate change was the likely culprit for their disappearance—not hunting by migrating humans, as scientists had assumed. “We can say that climate probably did have a huge role in the extinction and decline of woolly rhinoceros,” said paleogeneticist Edana Lord of Stockholm University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History, lead author of the recent study in Current Biology. However, Lord and her colleagues cannot rule out human activity as a contributing factor in the rhinos’ final years. An almost whole wooly rhino found frozen by the Kolyma River in northeastern Siberia. Photo credit: Sergey Fedorov Woolly rhinos (Coelodonta antiquitatis), predecessors to the modern-day Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), roamed Siberia tens of thousands of years ago. Both the arrival of humans in their range and a climate warming period, known as the Bølling-Allerød interstadial, coincide with the disappearance of these ancient SUV-sized animals. Scientists obtained 14 specimens in the form of 12 bones, a mummified tissue biopsy, and a hair sample. By determining the full DNA sequence of one of these remains, and the maternal DNA sequence of all 14, researchers hoped to expose key parts of their history. They zeroed in on mitochondrial DNA—DNA passed through the mother—which revealed a diverse rhino family tree. However, if hunting or…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer