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Temporal range: Oligocene, 34–23 Ma
Mounted P. transouralicum skeleton, Moscow Paleontological Museum; this is the most completely known skeleton, but the skull is a cast of a specimen at American Museum of Natural History
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Paraceratheriidae
Genus: Paraceratherium
Forster-Cooper, 1911
Type species
Aceratherium bugtiense
Pilgrim, 1908
  • P. bugtiense (Pilgrim, 1908)
  • P. transouralicum (Pavlova, 1922)
  • P. huangheense Li et al., 2017
  • P. linxiaense Deng et al., 2021
Genus synonymy
  • Baluchitherium Forster-Cooper, 1913
  • Indricotherium Borissiak, 1916
  • Pristinotherium Birkjukov, 1953
  • ?Benaratherium Gabunia, 1955
Species synonymy
  • P. bugtiense:
  • Aceratherium bugtiense Pilgrim, 1908
  • Thaumastotherium osborni Forster-Cooper, 1913 (preoccupied)
  • Baluchitherium osborni (Forster-Cooper, 1913)
  • Metamynodon bugtiensis Forster-Cooper, 1922
  • Paraceratherium zhajremensis Bayshashov, 1988
  • P. transouralicum:
  • Indricotherium transouralicum Pavlova, 1922
  • Baluchitherium grangeri Osborn, 1923
  • Indricotherium asiaticum Borissiak, 1923
  • Indricotherium minus Borissiak, 1923
  • Indricotherium grangeri (Osborn, 1923)
  • Pristinotherium brevicervicale Birjukov, 1953
  • Dubious names:
  • Benaratherium callistratum Gabunia, 1955
P. transouralicum skull, American Museum of Natural History
Estimated size of P. transouralicum compared with that of humans

Paraceratherium [1] is an extinct genus of mammal. It was a large rhinoceros without a horn. It lived in Eurasia during the late Oligocene epoch of the Tertiary period, (34–23 million years ago).

Paraceratherium was one of the largest ever land mammals.[2] Its exact size is unclear because of the incompleteness of the fossils. The size of adults was about 4.8 metres (16 ft) tall at the shoulder, about 7.4 metres (24 ft) in length. Estimates of its weight have varied greatly.

Lifestyle[change | change source]

It was a herbivore that stripped leaves from trees. It had a long, low, hornless skull and long frontal and nasal bones. Its front teeth had a single pair of incisors in either jaw. They were round, pointed, and so large that they looked like small tusks. The upper incisors pointed straight downwards, while the lower ones jutted outwards. The upper lip was evidently extremely mobile. The neck was very long, the body big and strong, and the limbs long and thick, column-like.[3]

Size[change | change source]

Its exact size is unclear because of the incompleteness of the fossils. Estimates have been based on skull, teeth, and limb bone measurements. However, the known bone elements are from individuals of different sizes. All skeletal reconstructions are composite extrapolations. This resulted in weight estimates from 11 to 20 tonnes.[4][5][6][7] Its shoulder height has been estimated as 4.8 metres (16 ft).[7] Its length was about 7.4 metres (24 ft) from front to back.[5] As explained, such figure are only approximations. These figures are for the largest of the three species in the genus.

Ecology[change | change source]

They lived in a huge rainforest floodplain in the area which is now Kazakhstan, India, and southwest China. They lived further inland throughout northern and central Asia as well. This area was a rainforest before the Himalayan uplift changed the climate.

References[change | change source]

  1. previously called Indricotherium or Baluchitherium or just Indricothere
  2. Palmer D. ed 1999. The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions, p262–263. ISBN 1-84028-152-9
  3. Prothero D. 2013. Rhinoceros giants: the palaeobiology of Indricotheres. Indiana: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-00819-0
  4. Gregory S. Paul (1992). "The size and bulk of extinct giant land herbivores" (PDF). Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Fortelius M. & Kappelman J. 1993. The largest land mammal ever imagined. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 108: 85–101. [1]
  6. Tsubamoto T. 2012. Estimating body mass from the astragalus in mammals. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 259–265. [2]
  7. 7.0 7.1 Larramendi, A. (2016). "Shoulder height, body mass and shape of proboscideans" (PDF). Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 61. doi:10.4202/app.00136.2014. S2CID 2092950.