Fossils of Giant Prehistoric Rhino Discovered in China Belong to Largest Land Mammal

Fossils of a new species of giant prehistoric rhino discovered in China in 2015 belong to the largest land mammal to have walked the planet. Found in northwest China’s Gansu province, fossils of the giant prehistoric rhino indicate that it lived over 26 million years ago.

Published in the journal Communications Biology, the study revealed that the fossils are the latest relics of this gigantic animal, which were discovered in May 2015.

Fossils of Giant Prehistoric Rhino belong to Largest Land Mammal

Found in northwest China’s Gansu province, fossils of the giant prehistoric rhino indicate that it lived over 26 million years ago | Image: Deng Tao

After studying the fossils for six years, the researchers discovered that they belonged to an entirely new species. These giant rhinos were much larger than modern rhinos, often standing over 20 feet tall at the shoulder and weighed over 20 tons, making them bigger than mammoths and the largest land mammals on the planet.

Led by Dr. Deng Tao of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, the study stated that the new species, Paraceratherium linxiaense, had a range expansion from Central Asia via the Tibetan region.

Talking about the discovery, Dr. Tao said,

Usually, fossils come in pieces, but this one is complete, with a very complete skull and a very complete jaw, which is rare. The skull was more than a meter (three feet) long, and it was very rare for a skull of that size to be preserved. We also found the cervical spine.

The fossils include a completely preserved skull, jawbone and two vertebrae found in the reddish-brown sandstone of the Linxia basin and reveal how the animal evolved and moved across present-day Asia.

Fossils of Giant Prehistoric Rhino belong to Largest Land Mammal

Cenozoic red deposits of the Linxia Basin in Gansu Province, northwestern China | Image: Deng Tao

It was also found that the new species was closely related to giant rhinos that once roamed in Pakistan, suggesting it had traveled across Central Asia.

The members of the newly discovered species were hornless, long-necked herbivores and likely living in open woodlands. Its head could reach about 23 feet to graze treetops, making it taller than a giraffe.

The researcher speculated that if it had roamed freely between northwest China and the Indian-Pakistan subcontinent, the Tibetan Plateau would have likely been a low-lying region at the time.

Via: Inside Edition

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