Rhinoceros Evolution and Ancestors
It is believed that the Rhinoceros has been walking this Earth for more than 14.2 million years. Several of the species diverted from the rest approximately 5 million years ago according to researchers and scientists. You will notice that the different species have some facial differences. The size and shape of the mouth and the nose are where you will see the biggest differences for comparison.
Based on some of the fossils that have been located it is believed that the Rhinoceros is closely related to animals such as small horses but that didn’t have any horns. It is possible that the Rhinoceros didn’t have one either but that through the evolution process this developed to help protect them. It is also believed that they used to be much taller and larger than they are today.
There is evidence that also suggests the Rhinoceros is very closely related to the Hippopotamus. Based on evidence found, there is a strong belief that the Rhinoceros used to be in many other countries than where it is found today. These were smaller species though, similar to the size of a pig.
There may have been a type of woolly Rhinoceros that moved from Asia into Europe about 1 million years ago during the Ice Age. There is also information to suggest these wooly versions were living in China too. They may have been hunted to extinction along with the woolly mammoth though by humans that were fighting for their own survival.
Cave drawings of both the wooly version of the Rhinoceros as well as those that are very large in size have been found. This is part of the credible information that researchers have used in their quest to uncover information about the Rhinoceros and their evolution process over the course or time.
A type of giant Rhinoceros that weighed close to 15 tons and was more than five feet long may have been around during the Middle Pleistocene period. There are various theories out there about what happened to them and why the Rhinoceros became much smaller in order to survive.
Of the species we do have it is believed that they began to branch out from each other between 5 and 10 million years ago. The differences in them through the evolution process has been based on where they live and their ability to survive in such a location. The ideas involved with Rhinoceros evolution continue to be challenged and to be mysterious at the same time.
Many experts believe that the Rhinoceros still offers a primitive look. It is an animal that may have evolved but not in spectacular ways. The main changes would be due to the loss of hair in warmer climates and changes in size. Still, the fact that these animals have been able to survive for millions of years when others didn’t deserves to be further explored.
It can be fun and interesting though to explore the various theories and to see what your own thoughts on the subject happen to be. For many researchers though the goal right now is to focus on the future for these animals rather than the past. They don’t want to see any of the five remaining species of Rhinoceros become extinct.
We have lots of questions but very few answers when it comes to the evolution of the Rhinoceros. Hopefully we will be able to uncover more information in the future that can be tested and help us to put together a timeline of what has occurred in the past for these huge and magnificent animals.