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New Study Finds the Northern White Rhino is Actually a Sixth Rhino Species
New information suggests that the Northern white rhino is a distinct species, not a subspecies
An exciting new study has re-assessed the taxonomy of the Northern white rhino and the Southern white rhino – and found they are actually two distinct species:
Although the Northern white rhino is currently considered a subspecies of the white rhino, the latest research indicates otherwise.
In a groundbreaking new report The Sixth Rhino: A Taxonomic Re-Assessment of the Critically Endangered Northern White Rhinoceros, researchers Colin P. Groves, Prithiviraj Fernando, and Jan Robovsky found the Northern white rhino to be a genetically distinct species from the Southern white rhino.
And world-renowned rhinoceros expert Dr. Kees Rookmaaker noted in the Rhino Resource Center Newsletter:
Dr. Rookmaaker also said via the newsletter that it might even be time to re-name the two species. The Northern white rhino has historically been called “Cotton’s Rhino” and the Southern white rhino “Burchell’s Rhino”.
In addition to the two rhino species being genetically distinct, the authors found distinguishing differences in the teeth and skulls.
There is also separation time of over a million years between the Northern white rhino and the Southern white rhino.
The Northern and Southern white rhinos were found to exhibit similar behavior, but a few identifiable physical traits were noted.
The authors conclude their report with a most appropriate thought:
Illegal killing for rhino horn has reduced the world’s Northern white rhino population to just eight individuals. In December 2009, four of these precious rhinos were famously relocated from a Czech Zoo to Kenya in hopes of stimulating breeding activity and saving the species from extinction.
Learn more about Ceratotherium cottoni
Today’s post is a snapshot of the full report. You can learn more about “The Sixth Rhino” by downloading The Sixth Rhino: A Taxonomic Re-Assessment of the Critically Endangered Northern White Rhinoceros from the Rhino Resource Center.
Photo: Fauna Flora International