Ancient Rhinos


In the past, there were many more kinds of rhinos than there are today. Instead of just five species, there were over a hundred species. As you can see, some of the ancient rhinos looked like today’s rhinos, and some of them did not.

The first rhinos lived about 60 million years ago. They were very small and looked like the ancestors of horses. They did not have horns, and many rhinos that came after them did not have horns either. Some ancient rhinos had much longer legs than today’s rhinos, and some had much shorter legs. Can you find some other differences between ancient and modern rhinos?

The largest land mammal that ever lived was part of the rhino family. It was about 18 feet tall at the shoulder and 28 feet long—roughly the size of two school buses! This giant is called Indricotherium (in-drik-o-theer-ee-uhm).

The first rhinos lived in North America. Over the course of time, some types of ancient rhinos migrated to Asia. All living rhinos are descended from these animals. The last rhinos in North America became extinct about five million years ago.

At one time or another, ancient rhinos lived on many of the world’s continents (see the green areas on the map). As far as we know, there have never been rhinos in South America, Australia, or Antarctica.