The rhinoceros has been on the earth for over fifty million years, and there has been very little that has changed in size and structure.
Interesting facts about rhinoceros:
The word ‘rhinoceros’ translates to mean ‘nose horn’
- The closest relatives to the rhinoceros are the zebra, horse and tapirs. They are part of the mammal group referred to as ‘odd-toed ungulates’.
- There are actually 5 different rhinoceros species and they live in areas from Africa to southern Asia: White Rhinoceros, Black Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros, Indian Rhinoceros and the Sumatran Rhinoceros.
- The second largest land animal in the world is the White rhinoceros, with growth to 7,700 lbs. (3,500 kg). Rhinos can grow to eleven feet long and over six feet tall.
Many cultures place value on the horn of the rhinoceros and therefor they have hunted them down to very low numbers, just to get their horns. 3 of the 5 species of rhinoceros are now listed on the ‘critically endangered’ species list, given them a 50% chance of extinction within 3 generations: The Sumatran, Javan and Black Rhinoceros.
The horn of the rhino is not made of bone but is actually made from the same type of substance that hair and fingernails are made of: keratin. The horn is made of a mass of compacted hairs and is not attached to the skull. It will continue to grow all through the rhino’s life. The longest horn on record was found on a Black rhino: 4’9” in length. The average horn size is about 20” long for a Black rhinoceros.
- The skin of the rhinoceros is very thick and yet it is also very sensitive. They are easily affected by insects and the sun and must always soak in the mud for protection.
- Rhinos have large bodies but comparatively small brain sizes. However, they are not stupid.
- Rhinos are plant eaters (herbivores) and graze a lot each day to get enough nutrients for their body.
Rhinos are known for their very bad eyesight, but they have compensated with an excellent sense of smell.
The rhinoceros should not be underestimated for their speed. They can run at thirty to forty mph. Compare that to humans, who run at 15 mph.