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‘World’s last male white rhinoceros will never mate’

White rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum.

London: White rhinos are on the verge of extinction as it is unlikely that their last male member would father an offspring, conservationists say.

The world’s only remaining male of his kind, 42-year-old Sudan, is counting his days under armed protection to guard him from poachers, Daily Mail reported.

White rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum.
White rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum.

“Sudan is quite an old animal as far as rhinos are concerned – he is an old animal and going to die soon, I think that is the reality,” said Richard Vigne, the chief executive of Ol Pejeta Conservancy – a 90,000-acre not-for-profit wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya.

“The quality of Sudan’s sperm is not particularly great. His ability to mount a female is almost non-existent due to problems with his back legs. It was always going to be a shot in the dark. We had the last remaining potentially reproductively viable northern whites left in the world and to recover a species from that level was always going to be a long shot,” he said.

Sudan was caught in the Shambe region when he was just one-year-old and shipped to the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.

In December 2009, he was moved to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy with two female northern white rhinos and another male, for a ‘Last Chance To Survive’ breeding program.

Three of the five northern white rhinos left in the world lived at Ol Pejeta and it was hoped Sudan would be able to mate with the females Fatu, 15, and Najin, 25, but so far all attempts have failed.

The other remaining male has now since passed away – meaning that as the last remaining male in the world, the fate of the species rests solely on Sudan’s shoulders.

The majestic animal is under guard 24-hours-a-day to protect him from poaching, and his horn has been filed down to further lower the risk of attack.


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Study Shows That The First Tree-Dwelling Birds Went Extinct With Dinosaurs

The asteroid that killed dinosaurs 66 million years ago, also led to the extinction of the first tree-dwelling birds, finds a study.

Skeleton of a dinosaur, pixabay

The asteroid that killed dinosaurs 66 million years ago, also led to the extinction of the first tree-dwelling birds, finds a study.

The asteroid that crashed to Earth with a force one million times more than the largest atomic bomb decimated the planet’s forests as well as its canopies.

With no more perches, the perching birds went extinct. The ones that are alive today are descendants of a handful of ground-dwelling species, like modern ground birds such as kiwis and emus, the researchers said.

“The temporary elimination of forests in the aftermath of the asteroid impact explains why arboreal birds failed to survive across this extinction event,” said lead author Daniel Field, from the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath, UK.

“The ancestors of modern arboreal birds did not move into the trees until forests had recovered from the extinction-causing asteroid.

“Only a handful of ancestral bird lineages succeeded in surviving the mass extinction event 66 million years ago, and all of today’s amazing living bird diversity can be traced to these ancient survivors,” Field added.

This fossil provides a unique insight into how crocodiles began evolving into dolphin and killer whale-like forms more than 180 million years ago," said Mark Young, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences in Britain.
Dinosaur Fossil. pixabay

The study, appearing in the journal Current Biology, determined the destruction of the world’s forests, by looking at microscopic fossils of pollen and spores.

The fossil record immediately after the asteroid hit shows the charcoal remains of burnt trees, and then, tons of fern spores, the researchers said.

“Our study examined the fossil record from New Zealand, Japan, Europe and North America, which showed there was a mass deforestation across the globe at the end of the Cretaceous period,” said Antoine Bercovici, pollen expert at the Smithsonian Institution and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

With no more trees, the tree-dwelling birds went extinct. The birds that did manage to survive were ground-dwellers — birds whose fossilised remains show longer, sturdier legs like we see in modern ground birds like kiwis and emus.

Though the dinosaurs and their perching bird neighbours died 66 million years ago, their plight is relevant today, the researchers noted.

Did Dinosaurs Evolve Frills And Horns to Attract Mates?

“The end-Cretaceous event is the fifth mass extinction — we’re in the sixth,” Dunn said.

“It’s important for us to understand what happens when you destroy an ecosystem, like with deforestation and climate change — so we can know how our actions will affect what comes after us,” Dunn noted. (IANS)

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