Story at a glance

  • Paleontologists working in China discovered a new species of a prehistoric giant rhino.
  • Also known as the Paraceratherium linxiaense, the Linxia Giant Rhino is estimated to have weighed 24 tons and was approximately the size of six elephants.
  • Paleontologists discovered the fossils in the Linxia basin of Gansu Province.

A team of paleontologists working in China discovered a new species of a prehistoric giant rhino believed to have been the largest mammal to have ever lived on land.

Paleontologists discovered the fossils in the Linxia basin of Gansu Province. The hornless giant rhino is known as the Paraceratherium linxiaense, or Linxia Giant Rhino, according to the study published in Communications Biology on June 17. 

The giant rhino is estimated to have weighed 24 tons and was approximately the size of six elephants, according to Deng Tao, the leader of the Chinese and U.S. team. With a 26-foot-long body, the animal’s head hung about 23 feet above the ground.


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"The skull was more than [3 feet] long, and it was very rare for a skull of that size to be preserved,” Deng told CNN. "This is the largest mammal ever to have lived on land.”

The giant rhino mostly inhabited China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Pakistan, as well as some parts of Eastern Europe, according to Deng.

"Animal migration is linked to climate change. So 31 million years ago, when the Mongolian plateau dried up, they moved south," Deng said. "Then the weather got wet and they went back to the north. Therefore, this discovery is of great significance to the study of the whole plateau uplift process, climate, and environment."


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Published on Jun 21, 2021