Yes, everybody knows about or has heard of the woolly mammoth. You know, the ones related to modern day elephants. Their mummified remains pop up every now and then in Siberia or some other cold weather climate, sometimes pretty much intact. But did you know that there was also a woolly rhinoceros?

Scientific Name - Coelodonta antiquitatis

It seems that during the Pleistocene epoch of Europe and Asia, or about 1.8 million years ago until about, oh, ten thousand years ago (about the end of the last Ice Age), the local fauna supported the woolly rhino.

It seems they had long gray-brown, shaggy fur and two large horns - both made of matted hair. The larger horn, located at the tip of the rhino's snout averaged about 3 feet in length although some discoveries measured over 5 feet in length. The average body size of the wooly rhino was about 11 feet long.

Just like their modern day relatives, the woolly rhino was a herbivore. It grazed on the grasslands and tundra on the Eurasian steppe. They covered a huge expanse from eastern Asia to the British Isles.

Unlike like the woolly mammoth and some of the other mammals of his day, the woolly rhino never migrated across the Bering Strait into North America. Also unlike the woolly mammoth, who lived in herds, the woolly rhino lived alone or in small family groups, just as his relatives do today.

Depictions of the woolly rhino can be found in various cave paintings made by humans who hunted them for food. Probably not the easiest of prey to subdue due to their size and disposition, the woolly rhino also was quick afoot and possessed what was probably a short temper. Instead of tackling one head on with the weapons of the day, humans probably trapped them in pits and then killed them with either rocks and spears.

The woolly rhino's best defense (in case you haven't guessed) was its horns. As mentioned earlier, specimens have been found that are over 5 feet in length. Unlike horns of other mammals, the rhino's horn is solid throughout and does not have a hollow bone core. The horn itself was composed of keratin. In addition to a defense mechanism, the horn was probably used as a plow to brush aside side to get at the underlying vegetation.

It's thought that our friend, the woolly rhino, became extinct about 20,000 years ago towards the end of the last Ice Age. The most popular theory is that they simply were not able to cope with changing climate. They are survived by five other living species, two in Africa and three throughout Asia, all of which are virtually hairless. Their closest relative is a species living on the island of Sumatra, having been stranded there during the retreat of the last ice sheet.

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