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Scientific classification


Rhinoceros , often colloquially abbreviated rhino, is a name used to group five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae. Two of these species are native to Africa and three to southern Asia. Three of the five speciesthe (Javan, Sumatran and Black Rhinoceros)are critically endangered. The Indian is endangered, with fewer than 2700 individuals remaining in the wild. The White is registered as Vulnerable, with roughly 14,500 remaining in the wild.[citation needed]

The rhinoceros family is characterised by large size (one of the largest remaining megafauna alive today) with all of the species able to reach one ton or more in weight; herbivorous diet; and a thick protective skin, 1.55 cm thick, formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure; relatively small brains for mammals this size (400600g); and a large horn. They generally eat leafy material, although their ability to ferment food in their hindgut allows them to subsist on more fibrous plant matter, if necessary. Unlike other perissodactyls, the African species of rhinoceros lack teeth at the front of their mouths, relying instead on their powerful premolar and molar teeth to grind up plant food.[1] The dental formula varies greatly between species, but in general is:

The rhino is prized for its horn. The horns of a rhinoceros are made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair and fingernails.[2] Both African species and the Sumatran Rhinoceros have two horns, while the Indian and Javan Rhinoceros have a single horn. Rhinoceri have acute hearing and sense of smell, but poor eyesight. Most live to be about 60 years old or more.

Taxonomy and naming

The word "rhinoceros" (?????e???) is derived from the Greek words ????? rhinos, meaning nose, and ???a? keras, meaning horn; hence "horned-nose". The plural can be rhinoceros, rhinoceri, rhinoceroses, or rhinoceroi. The collective noun for a group of rhinoceros is "crash". They are commonly known as rhinos.
Size comparison of extant rhinoceros species.

The five living species fall into three categories. The two African species, the White Rhinoceros and the Black Rhinoceros, diverged during the early Pliocene (about 5 million years ago) but the Dicerotini group to which they belong originated in the middle Miocene, about 14.2 million years ago. The main difference between black and white rhinos is the shape of their mouths. White rhinos have broad flat lips for grazing and black rhinos have long pointed lips for eating foliage. A popular, if unverified theory, claims that the name White Rhinoceros was actually a mistake, or rather a corruption of the word wijd ("wide" in Afrikaans), referring to their square lips.[2]

White Rhinoceros are divided into Northern and Southern subspecies. There are two living Rhinocerotini species, the endangered Indian Rhinoceros and the critically endangered Javan Rhinoceros, which diverged from one another about 10 million years ago. The critically endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros is the only surviving representative of the most primitive group, the Dicerorhinini, which emerged in the Miocene (about 20 million years ago).[3] The extinct Woolly Rhinoceros of northern Europe and Asia was also a member of this tribe.

A subspecific hybrid white rhino (Ceratotherium s. simum C. s. cottoni) was bred at the Dvur Králov Zoo (Zoological Garden Dvur Kralove nad Labem) in the Czech Republic in 1977. Interspecific hybridisation of Black and White Rhinoceros has also been confirmed.[4]

All rhinoceros species have 82 chromosomes (diploid number, 2N, per cell), except the Black Rhinoceros, which has 84. This is the highest known chromosome number of all mammals.

White Rhinoceros

This White Rhinoceros is actually gray. The White in this species' name is from the Afrikaans word wyd which means wide. It refers to the White Rhinoceros's wide lip compared to the Black Rhinoceros's pointed lip. The original meaning was subsequently lost in translation.

Main article: White Rhinoceros

The White Rhinoceros or Square-lipped Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) is, behind the elephant, the most massive remaining land animal in the world, along with the Indian Rhinoceros and the hippopotamus, which are of comparable size. There are two subspecies of White Rhinos; as of 2005, South Africa has the most of the first subspecies, the Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum). The population of Southern White Rhinos is about 14,500, making them the most abundant subspecies of rhino in the world. However, the population of the second subspecies, the critically-endangered Northern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni), is down to as few as four individuals in the wild, and as of June 2008 this sub-species could even be extinct.[5]

The White Rhino has an immense body and large head, a short neck and broad chest. This rhino can exceed 3000 kg (6600 pounds), have a head-and-body length of 3.35-4.2 m (11-13.9 feet) and a shoulder height of 150-185 cm (60-73 inches). The record-sized White Rhinoceros was about 4500 kg (10,000 lb).[6]. On its snout it has two horns. The front horn is larger than the other horn and averages 89.9 cm (23.6 inches) in length and can reach 150 cm (59 inches). The White Rhinoceros also has a noticeable hump on the back of its neck which supports its large head. The colour of this animal ranges from yellowish brown to slate grey. The only hair on them is on the ear fringes and tail bristles with little across the body. White Rhinos have the distinctive flat broad mouth which is used for grazing.

Black Rhinoceros

The Black Rhinoceros is similar in color to the White Rhinoceros.

Main article: Black Rhinoceros

The name Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) was chosen to distinguish this species from the White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum). This can be confusing, as those two species are not really distinguishable by colour. There are four subspecies of black rhino: South-central (Diceros bicornis minor), the most numerous, which once ranged from central Tanzania south through Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to northern and eastern South Africa; South-western (Diceros bicornis bicornis) which are better adapted to the arid and semi-arid savannas of Namibia, southern Angola, western Botswana and western South Africa; East African (Diceros bicornis michaeli), primarily in Tanzania; and West African (Diceros bicornis longipes) which was tentatively declared extinct in 2006.[7]

An adult Black Rhinoceros stands 147160 cm (57.963 inches) high at the shoulder and is 3.3-3.6 m (10.811.8 feet) in length.[8] An adult weighs from 800 to 1400 kg (1,760 to 3,080 lb), exceptionally to 1820 kg (4,000 lb), with the females being smaller than the males. Two horns on the skull are made of keratin with the larger front horn typically 50 cm long, exceptionally up to 140 cm. Sometimes, a third smaller horn may develop. The Black Rhino is much smaller than the White Rhino, and has a pointed mouth, which they use to grasp leaves and twigs when feeding.

Indian Rhinoceros

An Indian rhinoceros and baby at the Nrnberger Zoo.
A bronze rhinoceros figure with silver inlay, from the Western Han (202 BC 9 AD) period of China, sporting a saddle on its back

Main article: Indian Rhinoceros

The Indian Rhinoceros or the Great One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is found in Nepal and in Assam, India. It is also known as Gainda in Hindi and Nepali. The rhino once inhabited areas from Pakistan to Burma and may have even roamed in China. But because of human influence their range has shrunk and now they only exist in small populations in north-eastern India and Nepal. It is confined to the tall grasslands and forests in the foothills of the Himalayas.

The Indian Rhinoceros has thick, silver-brown skin which creates huge folds all over its body. Its upper legs and shoulders are covered in wart-like bumps, and it has very little body hair. Fully-grown males are larger than females in the wild, weighing from 22003000 kg (4,8006,600 lb). Female Indian rhinos weigh about 1600 kg. The Indian Rhino is from 5.76.7 feet tall and can be up to 13 feet (4.0 m) long. The record-sized specimen of this rhino was approximately 3500 kg. The Indian Rhino has a single horn that reaches a length of between 20 and 101 cm. Its size is comparable to that of the White Rhino in Africa.

A big bastion of one horn or Indian rhino is the Kaziranga National Park situated in the Golaghat district of Assam, India

Javan Rhinoceros

Main article: Javan Rhinoceros

The Javan Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is one of the rarest and most endangered large mammals anywhere in the world.[9] According to 2002 estimates, only about 60 remain, in Java (Indonesia) and Vietnam. Of all the rhino species, the least is known of the Javan Rhino. These animals prefer dense lowland rain forest, tall grass and reed beds that are plentiful with large floodplains and mud wallows. Though once widespread throughout Asia, by the 1930s the rhinoceros was nearly hunted to extinction in India, Burma, Peninsular Malaysia, and Sumatra for the supposed medical powers of its horn and blood.

Like the closely related larger Indian Rhinoceros, the Javan rhinoceros has only a single horn. Its hairless, hazy gray skin fall into folds into the shoulder, back, and rump giving it an armored-like appearance. The Javan rhino's body length reaches up to 3.1-3.2 m (10-10.5 feet), including its head and a height of 1.51.7 m (4.9-5.6ft)tall. Adults are variously reported to weigh between 9001,400 kg[10] or 1,360-2,000 kg.[11] Males horns can reach 26 cm in length while in females they are knobs or no horn at all.[11]

Sumatran Rhinoceros

A Sumatran rhinoceros at the Bronx Zoo.

Main article: Sumatran Rhinoceros

The Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is the smallest extant rhinoceros species, as well as the one with the most fur, which allows it to survive at very high altitudes in Borneo and Sumatra. Due to habitat loss and poaching, its numbers have declined and it is one of the world's rarest mammals. About 275 Sumatran Rhinos are believed to remain.

Typically a mature Sumatran rhino stands about 130 cm (4.3ft) high at the shoulder, a body length of 240315 cm (7.9ft - 10.3ft) and weighs around 700 kg (1543 lbs), though the largest individuals have been known to weigh as much as 1,000 kilograms. Like the African species, it has two horns; the largest is the front (2579 cm) and the smaller being the second, which is usually less than 10 cm long. The males have much larger horns than the females. Hair can range from dense (the most dense hair in young calves) to scarce. The color of these rhinos is reddish brown. The body is short and has stubby legs. They also have a prehensile lip.


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: Uromastyx     11, 2008 4:06 pm


The Uromastyx is a genus of lizard whose members are better-known as Spiny-tailed lizards, uros, mastigures, or dabb lizards. Uromastykes are primarily herbivorous, but occasionally eat insects, especially when young. They spend most of their waking hours basking in the sun, hiding in underground chambers at daytime or when danger appears. They tend to establish themselves in hilly, rocky areas with good shelter and accessible vegetation.

The generic name (Uromastyx) is derived from the Ancient Greek words ourá (οὐρά) meaning "tail" and mastigo (Μαστίχα) meaning "whip" or "scourge", after the thick-spiked tail characteristic of all Uromastyx species.

The species are:

Bell's Dabb Lizard, Uromastyx acanthinura
Dabb Lizard, Uromastyx aegyptia
Uromastyx alfredschmidti
Iranian Mastigure, Uromastyx asmussi
Bent's Mastigure, Uromastyx benti
Uromastyx dispar dispar
Sahara Mastigure, Uromastyx geyri
Hardwick's Spiny-tailed Lizard, Uromastyx hardwickii
Uromastyx leptieni
Mesopotamian Mastigure, Uromastyx loricata
Somali Mastigure, Uromastyx macfadyeni
Mali Uromastyx, Uromastyx dispar maliensis
Uromastyx occidentalis
Eyed Dabb Lizard, Uromastyx ocellata
Uromastyx ornata
Princely Mastigure, Uromastyx princeps
Oman Spiny-tailed Lizard, Uromastyx thomasi
Uromastyx yemenensis yemenensis
Uromastyx yemenensis shobraki


Their size ranges from 14 inches (U. hardwickii) to 36 inches or more (U. aegyptius). Hatchlings or neonates are usually no more than 3-4 inches in length. Like many reptiles, these lizards' colors change according to the temperature; during cool weather they appear dull and dark but the colors become lighter in warm weather, especially when basking; the darker pigmentation allows their skin to soak up more sunlight.

Their spiked tail is muscular and heavy, and can be swung at an attacker with great velocity, usually accompanied by hissing and an open-mouthed display of (small) teeth.[2] Uros generally sleep in their burrows with their tails closest to the opening, in order to thwart intruders.[2]


Uromastyx inhabit a range stretching through most of North Africa, the Middle East and across south-central Asia and into India.[2] This area spreads across 5000 miles and 30 countries. They occur at elevations from sea level to well over 3000 feet. They are regularly eaten, and sold in produce markets, by local peoples. Uromastyx tend to bask in areas with surface temperatures of over 120 F.

Female Mali uromastyx.


A juvenile Indian Spiny-tailed Lizard

A female Uromastyx can lay anywhere from 5 to 40 eggs, depending on age and species. Eggs are laid approximately 30 days following copulation with an incubation time of 70-80 days.[3] The neonates weigh 4-6 grams and are about 2 inches (5.1 cm) snout to vent length.[3] They rapidly gain weight during the first few weeks following hatching.[3]

A field study in Algeria concluded that Moroccan spiny-tailed lizards add approximately 2 inches (5.1 cm) of total growth each year until around the age of 8-9 years.[3]

Female uros are smaller and less colorful than males. For example, U. maliensis females are light tan with black dorsal spots, while males are mostly bright yellow with mottled black markings. Females also tend to have shorter claws.


These lizards acquire most of the water they need from the vegetation they ingest. They have rarely been observed drinking standing water. (They may urinate when frightened; this can rapidly deplete their crucial water stores.) The humidity of the enclosure must be kept low to prevent respiratory problems. Captive uros diets must be predominantly herbivorous, consisting of endive, dandelion greens, Bok Choy, and escarole. Some lettuces have almost no nutritive value, but can be given once in a while as a water source. They can consume de-thorned cacti with their powerful jaws, especially if they need water. The lizards' food should be frequently dusted with a calcium and a uromastyx designed supplement to help prevent health problems. It is very important to avoid spinach, chard, flowering kale, and parsley in the diets of all reptiles, since the oxalates in spinach prevent the uptake of calcium into the bloodstream. Some believe feeding insect foods, such as crickets and mealworms, should be avoided because of health problems, but many other breeders and hobbyists maintain that insects can be a small part of the animal's diet (less than 10% of all foods eaten) without any danger to the lizard. A good diet plan is plant matter every day or every other day, and insects every month or two. Insect protein is difficult for uros' livers to digest


Historically, captive Uromastyx had a poor survival rate, due to a lack of understanding of their dietary and environmental needs. In recent years, knowledge has significantly increased, and appropriate diet and care has led to survival rates and longevity approaching and perhaps surpassing those in the wild.

The Mali Uromastyx is considered an ideal species to choose as a pet because they readily adapt to a captive environment. Another good species of Uromastyx that adapts to captivity, and comes in some beautiful color varieties, is Uromastyx ocellata ornata. Artificial UVB/UVA light and vitamin supplements must be balanced with proper food and nutrition. Proper enclosures can be costly, as these are roaming animals with large space needs for their size, combined with the need to provide heat and ultraviolet light. Though the lizards bask at very high temperatures, there must be a temperature gradient within the enclosure allowing them to cool off away from the heat lamps. A cooling-down period over winter months can trigger the breeding response when temperatures rise in the spring. The temporary slowing-down of their metabolisms also lengthens the animals' lifespans.

Uromastyx are burrowing lizards, and need substrate deep enough to burrow in, or a low structure under which to hide. In the wild, these lizards' burrows can reach 10 feet in length.

Egyptian spiny-tailed lizard (Uromastyx aegyptius) in an English zoo

source and referance

^ Uromastyx (TSN 209040). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved on 16 September 2008.
^ a b c Capula, Massimo; Behler (1989). Simon & Schuster's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the World. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 259. ISBN 0671690981.
^ a b c d Vernet, Roland, Michel Lemire, Claude J. Grenot, and Jean-Marc Francaz. (1988). Ecophysiological comparisons between two large Saharan Lizards, Uromastix acanthinurus (Agamidae) and Varanus griseus (Varanidae). Journal of Arid Environments 14:187-200.


This page was last modified on 8 December 2008, at 21:17.




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diverged from other perissodactyls by the early Eocene. Fossils of
Hyrachyus eximus found in North America date to this period. This small
hornless ancestor resembled a tapir or small horse more than a rhino.
Three families, sometimes grouped together as the superfamily
Rhinocerotoidea, evolved in the late Eocene: Hyracodontidae,
Amynodontidae and Rhinocerotidae.

Hyracodontidae, also known as
"running rhinos," showed adaptations for speed, and would have looked
more like horses than modern rhinos. The smallest hyracodontids were
dog-sized; the largest was Indricotherium, believed to be one of the
largest land mammals that ever existed. The hornless Indricotherium was
almost seven meters high, ten meters long, and weighed as much as 15
tons. Like a giraffe, it ate leaves from trees. The Hyracodontids
spread across Eurasia from the mid-Eocene to early Miocene.
Juxia, an extinct genus of Indricothere genus.

family Amynodontidae, also known as "aquatic rhinos," dispersed across
North America and Eurasia, from the late Eocene to early Oligocene. The
amynodontids were hippopotamus-like in their ecology and appearance,
inhabiting rivers and lakes, and sharing many of the same adaptations
to aquatic life as hippos.
Teleoceras, an extinct rhinoceros genus.

family of all the modern rhinoceri, the Rhinocerotidae, first appeared
in the Late Eocene in Eurasia. The earliest members of Rhinocerotidae
were small and numerous; at least 26 genera lived in Eurasia and North
America until a wave of extinctions in the middle Oligocene wiped out
most of the smaller species. Several independent lineages survived,
however. Menoceras, a pig-sized rhinoceros which had two horns
side-by-side or the Teleoceras of North America which had short legs
and a barrel chest and lived until about 5 million years ago. The last
rhinos in America became extinct during the Pliocene.
Coelodonta, the extinct woolly rhinoceros.

rhinos are believed to have dispersed from Asia beginning in the
Miocene. Two species survived the most recent period of glaciation and
inhabited Europe as recently as 10,000 years ago. The Woolly Rhinoceros
appeared in China around 1 million years ago and first arrived in
Europe around 600,000 years ago and again 200,000 years ago, where
alongside the Woolly Mammoth, they became numerous but eventually were
hunted to extinction by early humans. Another species of enormous
rhino, Elasmotherium, survived the last ice age. Also known as the
giant Rhinoceros rhinoceros, Elasmotherium was two meters tall, five
meters long and weighed around five tons, with a single enormous horn,
hypsodont teeth and long legs for running.
Indricotherium, the extinct giraffe-sized rhinoceros.

the extant rhinoceros species, the Sumatran Rhino is the most archaic,
first emerging more than 15 million years ago. The Sumatran Rhino was
closely related to the Woolly Rhinoceros, but not to the other modern
species. The Indian Rhino and Javan Rhino are closely related and from
a more recent lineage of Asian rhino. The ancestors of early Indian and
Javan rhino emerged 2-4 million years ago.[12]

The origin of the
two living African rhinos can be traced back to the late Miocene (11-5
mya) species Ceratotherium neumayri. The lineages containing the living
species diverged by the early Pliocene (5-3.5 mya), when Diceros
praecox, the likely ancestor of the Black Rhinoceros, appears in the
fossil record.[13] The black and white rhinoceros remain so closely
related that they can still mate and successfully produce offspring.[4]
Rhino from the San Diego Zoo
Indian Rhino
Rhino skin
Black Rhinos in Ngorongoro Crater
Rhinos at Lake Nakuru

* Family Rhinocerotidae[14]
o Subfamily Rhinocerotinae
+ Tribe Aceratheriini
# Aceratherium
# Acerorhinus
# Alicornops
# Aphelops
# Chilotheridium
# Chilotherium
# Dromoceratherium
# Floridaceras
# Hoploaceratherium
# Mesaceratherium
# Peraceras
# Plesiaceratherium
# Proaceratherium
# Sinorhinus
# Subchilotherium
+ Tribe Teleoceratini
# Aprotodon
# Brachydiceratherium
# Brachypodella
# Brachypotherium
# Diaceratherium
# Prosantorhinus
# Shennongtherium
# Teleoceras
+ Tribe Rhinocerotini
# Gaindatherium
# Rhinoceros - Indian & Javan Rhinoceros
+ Tribe Dicerorhinini
# Coelodonta - Woolly Rhinoceros
# Dicerorhinus - Sumatran Rhinoceros
# Dihoplus
# Lartetotherium
# Stephanorhinus
+ Tribe Dicerotini
# Ceratotherium - White Rhinoceros
# Diceros - Black Rhinoceros
# Paradiceros
o Subfamily Elasmotheriinae
+ Gulfoceras
+ Tribe Diceratheriini
# Diceratherium
# Subhyracodon
+ Tribe Elasmotheriini
# Bugtirhinus
# Caementodon
# Elasmotherium - Giant Rhinoceros
# Hispanotherium
# Huaqingtherium
# Iranotherium

Rhinoceros horns
A rhinoceros horn.

most obvious distinguishing characteristic of the rhinos is a large
horn above the nose. Rhinoceros horns, unlike those of other horned
mammals, consist of keratin only and lacks a bony core, such as bovine
horns. Rhinoceros horns are used in traditional Asian medicine, and for
dagger handles in Yemen and Oman.

One repeated misconception is
that rhinoceros horn in powdered form is used as an aphrodisiac in
Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is, in fact, prescribed for fevers and
convulsions.[15] Discussions with TCM practitioners to reduce its use
have met with mixed results since some TCM doctors see rhinoceros horn
as a life-saving medicine of better quality than substitutes.[16] China
has signed the CITES treaty however. To prevent poaching, in certain
areas, rhinos have been tranquilized and their horns removed. Many
rhino range States have stockpiles of rhino horn, which needs to be
carefully managed.[17]

Cultural depictions of rhinos

A Rhinoceros depicted on a Roman mosaic in Villa Romana del Casale, an archeological site near Piazza Armerina in Sicily, Italy
Rhinoceros sculpture, Biological Sciences Building, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

are a number of legends about rhinoceri stamping out fire. The story
seems to have been common in Malaysia, India, and Burma. This type of
rhinoceros even had a special name in Malay, badak api, where badak
means rhinoceros and api means fire. The animal would come when a fire
is lit in the forest and stamp it out. Whether there is any truth to
this has not yet been proven, as there has been no documented sighting
of this phenomenon in recent history. This lack of evidence may stem
from the fact that rhinoceros sightings overall in south-east Asia have
become very rare, largely owing to widespread poaching of the
critically endangered animal. This legend is featured prominently in
the film The Gods Must Be Crazy as well as on an episode of The
Drer's Rhinoceros, in a woodcut from 1515.

rhinos are herbivores, in the novel James and the Giant Peach by author
Roald Dahl, the main character's parents are supposedly eaten by a
rhinoceros that had escaped from the London Zoo.

Albrecht Drer
created a famous woodcut of a rhinoceros in 1515, without ever seeing
the animal depicted. As a result, Drer's Rhinoceros is an inaccurate

In The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and
the Wardrobe, five black rhinoceros are seen fighting against the White

In U.S. military aviation, one of the unofficial names
for the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II fighter was "Rhino" and the
Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet carrier-based strike
fighter for the U.S. Navy is also unofficially known as the "Rhino" to
distinguish it from the legacy F/A-18 Hornet models when calling the
ball in the carrier landing pattern so that the proper weight for the
arresting gear can be set without a confusion between "Hornet" and
"Super Hornet" over the radio, should the transmission be garbled.

A rhinoceros appears on the South African 10-Rand banknotes (see South African rand).

the One Thousand and One Nights tales, a rhino is described fighting
with an elephant[18]. "The rhinoceros fights with the elephant, and
transfixing him with his horn carries him off upon his head, but
becoming blinded with the blood of his enemy, he falls helpless to the
ground, and then comes the roc, and clutches them both up in his talons
and takes them to feed his young."


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