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Paleontology: New species of giant rhino discovered from 26.5-million-year-old fossils

Communications Biology

June 18, 2021

Researchers have discovered a new species of giant rhino from fossils dating back to 26.5-million-years ago, found in northwestern China. The findings are published in Communications Biology.

The giant rhino is known to be one of the largest land mammals that ever lived. It has primarily been found in Asia, but its evolutionary relationships remain unclear. Tao Deng and colleagues recovered skeletal remains of a new species of giant rhino from the Linxia Basin in the Gansu Province in northwestern China. Dubbed Paraceratherium linxiaense, this animal has distinct characters: a slender skull with a short nose trunk and long neck, and a deeper nasal cavity than other giant rhino species.

The authors’ analyses place this species in a group with another closely related giant rhino species, which together have a close relationship with the giant rhinos of Pakistan. These findings raise the possibility that the giant rhino could have passed through the Tibetan region before it became the elevated plateau it is today. From there, it may have reached the Indian-Pakistani subcontinent in the Oligocene epoch, where other giant rhino specimens have been found.

doi: 10.1038/s42003-021-02170-6

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