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Fossils Reveal New Species of Hornless Rhino in Thailand

Jul 02, 2013 05:56 PM EDT
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Reconstruction of the Late Miocene habitat of Aceratherium piriyai at Tha Chang
A new but extinct species of hornless rhinoceros has been identified by fossils uncovered in Thailand.
(Photo : Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences -- illustrated by Chen Yu))

A new but extinct species of hornless rhinoceros has been identified by fossils uncovered in Thailand.

Local villagers working in sand pits located about 140 miles northeast of Bangkok found the fossils, which were turned in to experts and later identified as "a mid-sized rhinocerotid in the subfamily Aceratheriinae, and represents the first discovery of Aceratherium in Thailand," according to the abstract of the description of the new species written in the Journal of Vertebrate Pathology.

The hornless rhino was named Aceratherium porpani in honor of Porpan Vachajitpan, who donated the specimens to science, according to Sci-News.com

Aceratheriinae is an extinct subfamily of the rhinoceros that lived through the Pliocene era, which ended 3.4 million years ago.

In their description of the new species, the researchers indicate the creature had smaller-than-usual teeth, which are indicative of a woodland habitat. Paleobotanical evidence from the Tha Chang sand pits regions where the species was uncovered is consistent with description of A.porpani's habitat.

The description of the news species a was based on a jaw bone and partial skull, which is now housed in Northeastern Research Institute of Petrified Wood and Mineral Resources, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

There are two other known species of Aceratherium and the latest find exhibits a mixture of characteristics that are primitive to and derived from the other known species, suggesting that it lived at a point in time somewhere in the middle of the other two.

Holotype skull of Aceratherium piriyai sp. nov. (Credit: Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Holotype skull of Aceratherium piriyai sp. nov. (Credit: Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

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