Elasmotherium

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Elasmotherium
Temporal range: late Pliocene to late Pleistocene, 2.6 mya – ~50 kya
Elasmotherium sibiricum skull.jpg
Elasmotherium skull
Scientific classification
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Elasmotherium

Artist's impression

Elasmotherium is an extinct giant rhinoceros.

It lived from 2.6 million years ago (mya) to about 50,000 years ago. Fossils have been found in Europe and Asia.[1] This giant lived and grazed on the Eurasian steppes (grasslands).

Description[change | change source]

Elasmotherium was a heavily-built quadruped that walked on four hoofed legs. Its legs were longer than those of other rhinos and were adapted for galloping, giving it a horse-like gait.

It probably had a large horn on its forehead, but fossils of the horn have not been found. The teeth were tall-crowned and were covered with cement and wrinkled enamel. Its mouth at the front was a beak; there are no teeth in front of the molars.

Morphology[change | change source]

The specimens of E. sibiricum are up to 4.5 m (15 ft) in body length with shoulder heights over 2 m (6 ft 7 in). E. caucasicum was at least 5 m (16 ft) in body length with an estimated mass of 3.6–4.5 tonnes (4–5 short tons). This is based on isolated molars which are larger than those of the Siberian species.[2]

Both species were among the largest in the family Rhinocerotidae, comparable in size to the woolly mammoth and larger than the woolly rhinoceros.[3][4] The feet were unguligrade,[5] the front larger than the rear, with 4 digits at the front and 3 at the rear.[6]

References[change | change source]

  1. Tleuberdina, Piruza; Nazymbetova, Gulzhan (2010). "Distribution of Elasmotherium in Kazakhstan". In Titov, V.V.; Tesakov, A.S. (eds.). Quaternary stratigraphy and paleontology of the Southern Russia: connections between Europe, Africa and Asia: Abstracts of the International INQUA-SEQS Conference (Rostov-on-Don, June 21–26, 2010) (PDF). Rostov-on-Don: Russian Academy of Science. pp. 171–173.
  2. Zhegallo V. et al 2005. On the fossil rhinoceros Elasmotherium (including the collections of the Russian Academy of Sciences). Cranium 22 (1): 17–40. [1]
  3. Cerdeño, Esperanza; Nieto, Manuel (1995). "Changes in Western European Rhinocerotidae related to climatic variations". Palaeo (114): 328. http://www.rhinoresourcecenter.com/ref_files/1291418848.pdf. 
  4. Cerdeño, Esperenza 1998. Diversity and evolutionary trends of the Family Rhinocerotidae (Perissodactyla). Palaeo 141, 13–34. [2]
  5. Like horses, they walk on hooves, that is, on the tips of their toes or toe.
  6. Belyaeva, E.I. (1977). "About the hyroideum, sternum and metacarpale V bones of Elasmotherium sibiricum Fischer (Rhinocerotidae)". Journal of the Palaeontological Society of India 20: 10–15. http://palaeontologicalsociety.in/vol20/v4.pdf.