An alarming new study claims that the Sumatran rhinoceros has faced extinction for a million years.
With only about 200 remaining, the Sumatran rhinoceros is one of the most endangered species on the planet. But a new study examining the animal’s genome has found that this species has been endangered for the past million years, a remarkable discovery that could help scientists preserve the species in the future.
The findings, published in the journal Current Biology, shows that the Pleistocene era was a difficult one for Dicerorhinus sumatrensis. The Sumatran rhino has been at extinction’s door for a very long time, but has somehow managed to stick around all this time.
The fossil evidence shows that the Sumatran rhinoceros population surged in southeast Asia about 900,000 years ago, but as rising sea levels submerged the Sundaland corridor about 12,000 years ago, populations shrunk due to decreasing habitat. About 9,000 years ago, at 700 individuals, the population wasn’t much bigger than it was today.