PLEISTOCENE: 350,000 - 20,000 years ago
in the Middle Pleistocene in Asia , the Woolly Rhinoceros,
known scientifically as Coelodonta antiquitatis, migrated into Europe
and became well-suited to the harsh environment there that existed in
our last Ice Age. The animal's massive body and long, shaggy fur
allowed it to withstand the severe cold and barren land as it fed on
vegetation of the steppe and tundra of Eurasia.
Woolly rhino grew to 11 feet in length and stood 6 feet at its
shoulders. It had a huge pair of horns that grew inline on its
snout. The front horn grew to lengths in excess of 3 feet.
Like modern rhinos, wooly rhinoceros had horns composed of
keratin. Unlike the hollow horns of cows, rhino horns are made of
fused hair that are solid throughout. The fibers are attached to
the snout by skin supported by a raised, roughened area on the skull.
An interesting feature of the Woolly rhinoceros' anterior horn is that
it was flat from side to side, rather than round like the horn of the
of the Woolly rhinoceros are often found amidst Woolly mammoth remains.
Both Ice Age beasts co-existed in Europe and Asia. Well-preserved Woolly
rhinoceros remains have been found frozen in ice and buried in
oil-saturated soils. At Staruni in what is now the Ukraine, a
complete carcass of a female rhinoceros was found buried in the mud. The
combination of oil and salt prevented the remains from decomposing
allowing the soft tissues to remain virtually intact. This
specimen is currently mounted in the Paleontological Museum in Krakow,
Woolly rhinoceros are
clearly shown in cave paintings made by
Neanderthals in southern France
around 30,000 years ago. Hunting these animals would have been
extremely dangerous given the beast's violent temperament and size
coupled with its weaponry of its two horns. Like the cave bear,
these deadly creatures were revered and were quite a trophy upon a
extinction is believed to have been caused by their inability to cope
with the warming climate that marked the close of the last Ice
Age. Today, the family Rhinocerotidae contains only five living
species in the wild, two in Africa and three throughout Asia. All
but the Sumatran rhinoceros are virtually hairless except
for the tip of
the tail and a fringe on the ears. The Sumatran rhinoceros is
thought to have been stranded on the island of Sumatra during the
retreat of the last ice sheet. This amazing animal was covered with
a fairly dense coat of hair and is believed to be the closest living
relative of the Woolly rhinoceros.
rhino remains have been found in
northern regions of Asia (Siberia) and Europe.
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