STL Science Center

STL Science Center

21 October 2011

One Horn

Coelodonta antiquitatis is just another furry animal roaming the landscape during the late Pleistocene in Eurasia. Notably found in Siberia and other cold regions, sometimes mummified as Woolly Mammoths were also found in the past, the Woolly Rhinoceros has always been an intriguing animal. Much like the idea of giant lions in America and Canada, the idea of a larger, furrier rhinoceros outside of Africa is a fascinating idea. Originating in the general area of the Tibetan Plateau, which is mostly inside China, around 3.6 million years ago, the Woolly Rhinoceros most likely split away from the Indian Rhinoceros family sometime around that same time in history with the Indian Rhinoceros and other southern rhinos (Javan, Sumatran) going fur-less in the warmer southern climes. Interestingly, Wooly Rhinos, like the Black and White African species and the Sumatran Rhinos, have two horns while the Indian and Javan Rhinos have only one horn.

The nasal horn of the Woolly Rhinoceros was by far the largest horn in the entire rhino family (Rhinocerotidae). The smaller horn on the frontal-parietal boundary area is about the size of most Black Rhinos nasal horns. At approximately two meters tall and up to fourteen meters long, the Woolly Rhinoceros was only slightly larger than the Indian Rhino (also known as the Great One Horned Rhino). Cave paintings found from many different ages of history show the size of this rhino and most show what appears to be dark bands of color between the front and back legs, though some of the paintings have been questioned in terms of the exact species of rhino being depicted as some do not seem especially woolly. This could, however, be a variation in the coat that was being accounted for, though Woolly Rhinoceroses tended to keep their movement within the expanding and contracting tundra of the Pleistocene. 

All this talk about glaciers makes me think of Bob Dylan:

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