New Paraceratherium from China: still not a rhino

Deng et al. 2021
bring us a new Paraceratherium species (P. linxiaense) from Oligocene strata in China.

Figure 1. Images from Deng et al. 2016 of the new Paraceratherium from China.

Unfortunately
the authors perpetuate the myth that paraceratheres are giant rhinos. That hypothesis of interrelationships was invalidated here in 2016 by simply adding competing taxa. Adding taxa nests paraceratheres with horses (Fig. 2), not rhinos (Figs. 3, 4).

Figure 1. Equus the horse shares many traits with Paraceratherium, the giant rhino/horse.
Figure 2. Equus the horse shares many traits with Paraceratherium, the giant horse. Note the central toe carries the weight in paraceratheres. This is what happens when horses get really big.

From the Deng et al. abstract:
“As one of the largest land mammals, the origin and evolution of the giant rhino Paraceratherium bugtiense in Pakistan have been unclear.”

Traditionally that has been due to taxon exclusion, specifically excluding horse taxa, documented here in 2016.

From the Deng et al. abstract:
“We report a new species Paraceratherium linxiaense sp. nov. from northwestern China with an age of 26.5 Ma. Morphology and phylogeny reveal that P. linxiaense is the highly derived species of the genus Paraceratherium, and its clade with P. lepidum has a tight relationship to P. bugtiense.”

Figure 5. Various ungulates and kin subset of the LRT. Here Aceratherium, a hornless rhino, does not nest with Paraceratherium, a giant three-toed horse.
Figure 3. Various ungulates and kin subset of the LRT (from 2018). Here Aceratherium, a hornless rhino, does not nest with Paraceratherium, a giant three-toed horse.

I still have high hopes that someday
horses (Fig. 4) will be added to a paracerathere cladogram. Unfortunately that did not happen this time.

Figure 4. A variety of horse and paracerathere skulls.
Figure 4. A variety of horse and paracerathere skulls to scale.

References
Deng T et al. (6 co-authors) 2021. An Oligocene giant rhino provides insights into Paraceratherium evolution. Nature communications biology. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-02170-6

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.