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New ancient rhinoceros species discovered in Vietnam

Professor Madelaine Böhme and a team of scientists from the University of Tubingen in Germany, the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution in Germany, Austria, France, and Vietnam reported the discovery of the first Eocene rhinoceros fossils ever found in Asia at the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution website on March 12, 2014.

Indricotherium, the extinct "giant giraffe" rhinoceros. It stood 4.8 meters (16 ft) tall at the shoulder and weighed up to 16 tonnes.
Charles R. Knight. This media file is in the public domain in the United States.

The fossils were discovered in an active coal mine in Na Duong, Vietnam.

The fossils date to 37 million years ago. The remains indicate that the ancient rhino was a forest dweller. The new species of ancient rhinoceros was named Epiaceratherium naduongense.

The new species has striking similarities in size and bone structure to ancient rhinos found in Europe that date from later time frames.

The researchers postulate that this species could be the original rhino.

The idea is that the rhinos migrated from Asia to India and then to Europe. Europe at the time was not a concrete land mass but an aggregate of large islands. The ancient rhinos were probably capable of swimming relatively long distances. The rhinos swam to ancient Italy and thence on to Europe.

One ancient rhino species, Epiaceratherium magnum, has been found in Italy and similar rhino fossils have been found in Germany. The strong resemblance of ancient European rhinos to the newly discovered species supports the theory.