Did you know the white rhino is the third largest African animal, after the elephant and the hippopotamus? The hybrid white rhinoceros is a cross between the southern and northern white, and it’s being created so there can be more northern white rhinos. As the two breeds are closely related, Italian researchers have been examining a way of producing more of the northern white species, and biologists think they have finally found a way to create babies that carry their genes.
By extracting eggs from two female northern white rhinos and fertilising them with the frozen sperm of a northern white male rhinoceros, biologists plan to give a boost to the numbers of these magnificent creatures. But as the offspring would lack genetic diversity, they want to take things one step further, producing stem cells from frozen northern white tissue and then developing them into eggs and sperm.
We think it’s amazing that you can potentially populate a whole species using the tools and technology we have at our disposal today – particularly one as amazing as the northern white rhinoceros. White rhinos are not technically white, they’re grey coloured but they got their moniker from a mix up over the original Dutch name for wide, “wijde”, which was actually used to describe their mouths. The White Rhino’s mouth is specially designed so they can graze easily on grassy plains, and as the white rhino is a species known for its sedentary behaviour, we’re sure it’s glad for the chance to chill!