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SOS Rhino : In the News : Scientists might have found more extinct rhino remains in Eaststate

Scientists might have found more extinct rhino remains in Eaststate

  Associated Press
Tuesday 10/5/04

GRAY, Tenn. — Scientists working in a fossil site in Gray, near Johnson City in upper East Tennessee, believe they have uncovered the remains of two rhinoceros skeletons, in addition to a rhino and fetus discovered earlier in the dig.

The new skeletons were noticed after the discovery of an anklebone in a corner of the pit where the first rhino was being excavated this summer in what scientists believed to be their largest, most intact discovery. ''We already had everything from this rhino, so we knew it was a second individual,'' East Tennessee State University paleontologist Steven Wallace said.

On the other side of the pit, researchers discovered a pelvis believed to be part of either the second rhino or a third specimen.

''At a minimum, there's one more. If we're lucky, there are two more,'' Wallace said.

The second find, he said, may also better explain the relationship between the first rhino and a fetus found earlier in the dig.

''We assumed there was only one skeleton, so we assumed it was mama and baby,'' Wallace said. ''This second skeleton is in that same general area, so it could be mom, and what we were working on could be a male.''

Scientists said the specimen is a teleoceras, a rhino variety that became extinct in North America some 4.5 million years ago.

Compared with modern rhinos, it would have shorter legs and a huge, barrel-like chest, much more like a hippopotamus.

Discovered in 2000 during the widening of State Highway 75, the Gray site is estimated at 4.5 million to 7 million years old and is the only one of its kind in Appalachia.

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