Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Climate Change Drove Woolly Rhinoceros to Extinction: DNA Study


Researchers have analyzed a complete nuclear genome and mitochondrial genomes from Coelodonta antiquitatis otherwise known as the extinct woolly rhinoceros. Their findings concluded that the population of the woolly rhinoceros remained stable until temperatures began to rise too high for the cold adapted species. This species first appeared 350,000 years ago and became extinct 14,000 years ago. Initially it was thought that humans were the cause of the woolly rhinoceros disappearance because data showed that humans first appeared in Siberia right around the time the population went extinct. Recently several discoveries showed much older human occupation sites. So the decline of woolly rhinoceros doesn't coincide with humans appearance. Professor Dalen and his colleagues wanted to investigate the woolly rhinoceros demographic history so they studied DNA from 14 individuals. 

By looking at the genetic diversity of the genomes, they were able to estimate the woolly rhino populations before their extinction. The population began to increase at the start of a cold period 29,000 years ago and remained constant. The population remained constant long after humans began living in Siberia and didn't start to decline until 4,500 years before their extinction. Researchers also found a genetic mutation in the DNA that helped the animals adapt to the cold weather. They believe the adaption may have declined due to a brief warming period known as the Bolling- Allerod which happened during their extinction. I do believe that climate change and global warming may have had a hand in the extinction of the woolly rhinoceros and that humans may not 100% at fault. I hope that more research is done on this subject.




1 comment:

  1. Climate change is a major factor in the extinction of the beast. Also do consider that the humans overhunting, ecological competition and other mitigating factors contribute to the wooly rhino's extinction