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An 8-year-old male Sumatran rhino named Harapan (hope) eats leaves inside a cage at Way Kambas National Park on Sumatra Island Indonesia. Photo: Tatan Syuflana / AP

Scientists have discovered that Sumatran rhinos — one of the most endangered mammals in the world — first saw a population decrease during the last Ice Age, BBC reports.

Why it matters: The Sumatran rhino population reached 60,000 around 950,000 years ago, and now it's less than 250 due, in part, to human hunting. And the species is confined mainly to Sumatra now, despite having lived across India, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, per BBC.

Terri Roth, a researcher at the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, said the animals are "hanging on by a thread." The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says part of the mammal's extinction is due to hunters who seek its horns and other medicinal products.

The study was based on the whole genome sequence of a male rhino that lived at the Cincinnati Zoo. Scientists modeled the species' population history through the rhino's DNA.

Go deeper

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

9 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios