Largest rhino of all time – Elasmotherium sibiricum

Posted on Apr 13, 2012 in Size

Elasmotherium sibiricum

Is it a rhino? Is it a horse?  Is it a unicorn? Basically, this member of the rhinoceros family was a unique-looking vegetarian ‘Thin Plate Beast’ (the translation of Elasmortherium) that continues to keep scientists guessing.


How big was it?

Based on a skeleton unearthed in Russia – this big beast would have been about 6 metres (20 feet) long, 4.5 metres (nearly 15 feet) tall and weighing 4,000kg (4 tons) – or to put it another way, imagine a rhino the size of a mammoth and you get the picture. Remarkably, another member of the same species, the Causasicum, is believed to have been even bigger, although no full skeleton has ever been discovered.


What did it eat?

As with rhinos today, this giant was a herbivore that grazed on grass and low-lying plants. As to the type of plants it would eat, the jury is still out. Some scientists believe it would trot like a horse and eat from trees. Others believe that it may have wallowed in water like hippos.


When was it around?

As recently as 50,000 years ago, but it also dates back some 2 million years. They could be found spread across a large section of Eurasia, from Eastern Europe to China by way of Russia.


Anything else?

This rhino had a truly enormous horn which may have been nearly 2 metres (6 feet) in length. You might think such a horn would have made a deadly weapon but it’s more likely that it was put to more practical use, such as clearing snow.


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