Rhino Took Longer Than Expected To Degenerate
MADISON, Wis. -- Researchers will haul an unusual specimen from
the earth at the University of Wisconsin campus Wednesday so they
can study its bones.
Researchers will dig up a 3,200-pound rare white rhinoceros that
was buried on the campus in 1983 after it died of natural causes
at the Milwaukee County Zoo.
Curators from the university's zoological museum wanted to include
the animal bones in their skeletal collections, but the rhino was
too big to fit in the museum's bug colonies, where flesh-eating
beetles devour animals down to their bones.
"The museum opted to bury it in the ground so it could decompose
naturally," said John Dallman, a retired curator of the museum.
But the rhino took longer than expected to degenerate.
Dallman and his crew unearthed the giant beast in 1995 but found
ligaments still connected some of its bones. They reburied the whole
This time, staff from the university departments of zoology, geology
and wildlife ecology will excavate the skeletal remains whether
they're ready or not, Dallman said.
The rhino is the last of several large animals, including a giraffe
and elephant, museum researchers plan to excavate. The rhino's head
was removed before it was buried to protect the valuable horn.