Giant Hyrax of Shaanxi

Unknown Hyrax of East Asia.

P^hysical description: A stocky quadruped with a head like a hyrax's, single hooves, and a short, hippopotamus-like tail.

Distribution: Shaanxi Province, China.

Significant sighting: Chinese bronze statuettes, at least one of which is from Shaanxi Province and dates from the Period of Warring States (403-221 b.c.), depict this animal.

Present status: Presumably extinct.

P^ossible explanation: P^liohyrax, a hyrax about the size of a large pig that lived in China 2 million years ago, in the Late Pliocene. It is only known from fossil skulls, but the eye placement indicates a semiaquatic adaptation similar to that of the hippopotamus. However, modern hyraxes have hooflike nails, not hooves, and P^liohyrax was probably no different—unless it evolved a padded foot structure that was imperfectly conveyed by the sculptor.

Sources: F. Martin Duncan, "A Chinese Noah's Ark," The Field 166 (November 30, 1935): 1286-1287; Karl Shuker, In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (London: Blandford, 1995), pp. 158-159; Karl Shuker, "A Giant Owl and a Giant Hyrax ... ?" Strange Magazine, no. 21 (Fall 2000), on line at http://www.

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