o The Frog Blog: Tibet: Evolutionary Cradle for Woolly Rhinoceros

Friday, 2 September 2011

Tibet: Evolutionary Cradle for Woolly Rhinoceros

Palaeontologists have unearthed the skull of an ancient Woolly Rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) in the Tibetan plateau, rewriting the evolution theory of these giant Ice Age mammals. The remains are dated to around 3.6 million years ago, surprisingly one million years before the start of the Pleistocene Ice Age - the time when most scientists believe these animals evolves. This new find suggests that the Tibetan plateau may have been the evolutionary cradle for these hugely impressive and resilient animals, and having to adapt to the harsh Himalayan climate may have helped the animal's descendants survive the big freeze. The same could also be true for ancestors of other Ice Age animals like the Woolly Mammoth, Giant Sloth and Sabre-Toothed Cat. One anatomical feature of note on the woolly rhino's skull was is flat shovel like horn, thought to be used to sweep away snow to reveal vegetation - the woolly rhino fed on grass .