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

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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-28. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  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] Archived 2014-08-10 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Cerdeño, Esperanza; Nieto, Manuel (1995). "Changes in Western European Rhinocerotidae related to climatic variations" (PDF). Palaeo (114): 328.
  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)" (PDF). Journal of the Palaeontological Society of India. 20: 10–15.