These guys were big. We’re talking Brontosaurus-and-more big.
A report on Thursday said fossils unearthed in May 2015 in China make up one of the world’s largest-ever land mammals.
The creature in question is, basically, a giant prehistoric rhino about the size of six elephants and weighing in at a cool 24 tons or so.
How big? The beast had a three-foot-long skull and likely stood more than 20 feet tall at the shoulder.
(Today’s rhinos might snicker at their ancestors because the prehistoric behemoths had no horns; those came much later.)
The big news was delivered in a study published in the journal Communications Biology.
The scientists who made the discovery, in the Linxia basin in the Gansu Province of northwestern China, say this set of bones is 26.5 million years old.
The Chinese and U.S. research team could have called the great rhino “Bob” or “Ed,” but settled on “Paraceratherium linxiaense.”
In any sense, this is a major conclusion.
“Usually fossils come in pieces, but this one is complete, with a very complete skull and a very complete jaw, which is rare,” Deng Tao, who led the team that discovered the fossils, told CNN.
“It was very rare for a skull of that size to be preserved.”
While these giant rhinos were already known to exist, their travel patterns were not thought to include this new species’ mass migrations across the continent.
According to the report, the early Oligocene era saw these giants move out of the northern Tibetan plateau.
“Animal migration is linked to climate change. So 31 million years ago, when the Mongolian plateau dried up, they moved south,” Deng, a professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told CNN.