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Remains of extinct Rhino taller than a Giraffe found

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  • Remains of extinct Rhino taller than a Giraffe found

    That would be a mighty large mammal there.

    Researchers have announced the discovery of a completely preserved roughly 26.5 myo (Oligocene) skull, mandible (jaw) with teeth and four vertebrae of a new species of ancient giant hornless rhino that roamed what is now the plateaus of Central Asia. The fossils were unearthed from deposits in the Linxia Basin of Gansu Province, northwestern China.

    This creature was one of the largest species among a group that were the largest terrestrial mammals ever to live. This cousin of a modern rhinoceros would have weighed up to 24 tons or the equivalent of four modern adult African elephants. It likely stood up to 20' at the shoulder with a nearly 7' long neck topped by a slender skull itself that was over 3' long. In comparison the tallest giraffe alive is a little over 18.5' tall.

    At National Geographic, Pierre-Olivier Antoine, a rhino paleontologist at France’s University of Montpellier who reviewed the new study, said that these huge creatures "would have been able to eat flowers at the third or fourth floor of a building."

    Based on the anatomy of the skull, the team responsible for the discovery think it possessed a short, prehensile trunk like that on a modern tapir. The plateau was a good deal different back when this creature, which was named Paraceratherium linxiaense, (named after where it was discovered with the genus name meaning "near the hornless beast") lived. Back then it was wetter and much more forested and P. linxiaense likely lived in areas of open woodland and ate leaves high up in the trees in the same manner that giraffes do today. But as the region dried out and became cooler it could no longer support these massive herbivores and they began to die out.

    Source: New fossils of giant rhinos — the largest land mammals ever — are found in China

    The discovery recalls an important phase of scientific history, and hints at the landscape of Asia millions of years ago

    Fossils from two giant rhinos dating back about 22 million years have been unearthed in China, according to a study published Thursday.

    They are among the latest relics of the gigantic animal, which was discovered amid great fanfare early last century. Much larger than modern rhinos, giant rhinos often stood more than 20 feet tall at the shoulder and weighed more than 20 tons, making them bigger than mammoths and the largest land mammal that ever lived.

    The new fossils were found in May 2015 in the Linxia region of Gansu province in northwest China. One fossil consists of a skull, jawbone and teeth, and the atlas vertebra — where the head connects to the spine — while the other consists of three vertebrae.

    From these remains, the scientists have reconstructed the ancient animals. And they’ve discerned enough differences in their skeletons to classify them as a new species, according to research published in the journal Communications Biology. They’ve dubbed it Paraceratherium linxiaense — the first name from its wider group of giant rhinos, and the second from the region where it was found.

    Tao Deng, the director of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, explained that the Linxia region has been famous for fossils since the 1950s, when local farmers there first found “dragon bones” that were used to make traditional medicines.

    Deng’s team has searched for fossils in Linxia since the 1980s and discovered several complete skeletons of ancient mammals, he said in an email. But they’d only found fragments of giant rhinoceros fossils before now, although more complete fossils have been found elsewhere in China.

    The new giant rhino species isn’t quite the largest — Deng said it was slightly smaller than Dzungariotherium orgosense, a species identified from fossils from China in the 1970s, but it was around a fifth larger than the relatively common Paraceratherium bugtiense, the first remains of which were identified in what’s now Pakistan in the early 1900s.

    None of the giant rhinos had horns on their noses, however, although they’re the ancestors of modern rhinos: the horns they’re named after are a much later adaptation.


    © Copyright Original Source

    The paper, An Oligocene giant rhino provides insights into Paraceratherium evolution is available at the hyperlink provided, and here is the abstract from it:


    As one of the largest land mammals, the origin and evolution of the giant rhino Paraceratherium bugtiense in Pakistan have been unclear. We report a new species Paraceratherium linxiaense sp. nov. from northwestern China with an age of 26.5 Ma. Morphology and phylogeny reveal that P. linxiaense is the highly derived species of the genus Paraceratherium, and its clade with P. lepidum has a tight relationship to P. bugtiense. Based on the paleogeographical literature, P. bugtiense represents a range expansion of Paraceratherium from Central Asia via the Tibetan region. By the late Oligocene, P. lepidum and P. linxiaense were found in the north side of the Tibetan Plateau. The Tibetan region likely hosted some areas with low elevation, possibly under 2000 m during Oligocene, and the lineage of giant rhinos could have dispersed freely along the eastern coast of the Tethys Ocean and perhaps through some lowlands of this region.

    Finally, an artist's reconstruction
    Last edited by rogue06; 06-17-2021, 07:11 PM.

    I'm always still in trouble again

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  • #2
    Man! That's one BIG beasty!
    "Obama is not a brown-skinned, anti-war socialist who gives away free healthcare. You are thinking of Jesus." Episcopal Bishop of Arizona

    I remember WinAce. Gone but not forgotten.


    • #3
      Another article about it
      Source: Tibet was crossroads for giant rhino dispersal

      Clickenate on to embiggen
      Skull and mandible share the scale bar, but both the
      anterior and nuchal views have an independent scale bar

      The giant rhino, Paraceratherium, is considered the largest land mammal that ever lived and was mainly found in Asia, especially China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan. How this genus dispersed across Asia was long a mystery, however. A new discovery has now shed light on this process.

      Prof. Deng Tao from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and his collaborators from China and the U.S.A. recently reported a new species Paraceratherium linxiaense sp. nov., which offers important clues to the dispersal of giant rhinos across Asia.

      The study was published in Communications Biology on June 17.

      The new species' fossils comprise a completely preserved skull and mandible with their associated atlas, as well as an axis and two thoracic vertebrae from another individual. The fossils were recovered from the Late Oligocene deposits of the Linxia Basin in Gansu Province, China, which is located on the northeastern border of the Tibetan Plateau.

      Phylogenetic analysis yielded a single most parsimonious tree, which places P. linxiaense as a derived giant rhino, within the monophyletic clade of the Oligocene Asian Paraceratherium. Within the Paraceratherium clade, the researchers' phylogenetic analysis produced a series of progressively more-derived species—from P. grangeri, through P. huangheense, P. asiaticum, and P. bugtiense -- finally terminating in P. lepidum and P. linxiaense. P. linxiaense is at a high level of specialization, similar to P. lepidum, and both are derived from P. bugtiense.

      Clickenate on to enbiggen
      Distribution and migration of Paraceratherium in the Oligocene
      Eurasia. Localities of the early Oligocene species were marked by
      the yellow color, and the red indicates the late Oligocene species

      Adaptation of the atlas and axis to the large body and long neck of the giant rhino already characterized P. grangeri and P. bugtiense, and was further developed in P. linxiaense, whose atlas is elongated, indicative of a long neck and higher axis with a nearly horizontal position for its posterior articular face. These features are correlated with a more flexible neck.

      The giant rhino of western Pakistan is from the Oligocene strata, representing a single species, Paraceratherium bugtiense. On the other hand, the rest of the genus Paraceratherium, which is distributed across the Mongolian Plateau, northwestern China, and the area north of the Tibetan Plateau to Kazakhstan, is highly diversified.

      The researchers found that all six species of Paraceratherium are sisters to Aralotherium and form a monophyletic clade in which P. grangeri is the most primitive, succeeded by P. huangheense and P. asiaticum.

      The researchers were thus able to determine that, in the Early Oligocene, P. asiaticum dispersed westward to Kazakhstan and its descendant lineage expanded to South Asia as P. bugtiense. In the Late Oligocene, Paraceratherium returned northward, crossing the Tibetan area to produce P. lepidium to the west in Kazakhstan and P. linxiaense to the east in the Linxia Basin.

      The researchers noted the aridity of the Early Oligocene in Central Asia at a time when South Asia was relatively moist, with a mosaic of forested and open landscapes. "Late Oligocene tropical conditions allowed the giant rhino to return northward to Central Asia, implying that the Tibetan region was still not uplifted as a high-elevation plateau," said Prof. Deng.

      During the Oligocene, the giant rhino could obviously disperse freely from the Mongolian Plateau to South Asia along the eastern coast of the Tethys Ocean and perhaps through Tibet. The topographical possibility that the giant rhino crossed the Tibetan area to reach the Indian-Pakistani subcontinent in the Oligocene can also be supported by other evidence.

      Up to the Late Oligocene, the evolution and migration from P. bugtiense to P. linxiaense and P. lepidum show that the "Tibetan Plateau" was not yet a barrier to the movement of the largest land mammal.


      © Copyright Original Source

      I'm always still in trouble again

      "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
      "Of course, human life begins at fertilization thatís not the argument." --Tassman


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