Ceratotherium mauritanicum

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Ceratotherium mauritanicum
Temporal range: Late Pliocene-Holocene, 2.2–0.008 Ma
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Rhinocerotidae
Genus: Ceratotherium
Binomial name
Ceratotherium mauritanicum
(Pomel, 1888)

Ceratotherium mauritanicum is a species of fossil African rhinoceros found in the Late Pliocene to earliest Holocene of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.[1] Slightly older fossils from the Pliocene of eastern Africa were also proposed to belong to this species,[2] but the most recent study consider them to belong to a somewhat more primitive species, Ceratotherium efficax.[3]


The phylogenetic position of C. mauritanicum is somewhat disputed. One model see it as to be located in a direct line of ancestry between the primitive Ceratotherium neumayri and the living white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum).[2] Alternatively it was proposed to be the descendant of Ceratotherium efficax and an extinct sister taxon to C. simum. It retained primitive characters contemporaneously to the more progressive evolution of the genus Ceratotherium in eastern and southern Africa.[3]


C. mauritanicum was widely distributed across northwestern Africa during the Quaternary, and often associated with archaeological sites.[1] Petroglyphs in northern Africa occasionally depict rhinoceri but often are to schematic to allow a distinction of the figured species.[4] Those showing characters typical of the white rhinoceros may in fact represent C. mauritanicum instead of C. simum, which may have been very similar in external appearance in life. It vanished during the Mesolithic and currently there is no evidence that it eventually survived into the historical era.[1]


C. mauritanicum is supposed to have had an ecology very similar to the extant C. simum. It lived in open savannah landscapes with sufficient water and vegetation, a biome that has vanished from the Maghreb since the Early Holocene. Its food was probably dominated by grass.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Guérin, C. & Faure, M. (2007). "XI. Étude paléontologique sur les mammifères du Pléistocène supérieure de l'oued El Akarit". In Roset, J.-P. & Harbi-Riahi, M. El Akarit - Un site archéologique du Paléolithique moyen dans la sud de la Tunisie (PDF). Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisations. pp. 365–388. ISBN 978-2-86538-310-8. 
  2. ^ a b Geraads, D. (2005). "Pliocene Rhinocerotidae (Mammalia) from Hadar and Dikika (Lower Awash, Ethiopia), and a revision of the origin of modern african rhinos". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 25 (2): 451–461. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2005)025[0451:PRMFHA]2.0.CO;2. 
  3. ^ a b Hernesniemi, E.; Giaourtsakis, I.X.; Evans, A.R. & Fortelius, M. (2011). "Chapter 11 Rhinocerotidae". In Harrison, T. Palaeontology and Geology of Laetoli: Human Evolution in Context. Volume 2: Fossil Hominins and the Associated Fauna. Springer Science+Business Media B.V. pp. 275–294. ISBN 978-90-481-9961-7. 
  4. ^ Osborn, D.J.; Osbornová, J. (1998). The Natural History of Egypt: Vol. IV. The Mammals of Ancient Egypt (PDF). Warminster: Aris & Phillips Ltd. pp. x+213. Retrieved October 9, 2012.