One Horned African Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros-like Hoofed Mammal of East and South Africa.

Physical description: Rhinoceros with only one horn.

Distribution: Ethiopia; Gees Gwardafuy, Somalia; White Nile and the area south of Sannâr, Sudan; Lake Chad area, Chad; northern Mozambique; northern South Africa.

Significant sightings: A small, gold-plated artifact depicting a rhinoceros with a single horn was discovered at the Mapungubwe archaeological site, Northern Province, South Africa. It dates from the twelfth century.

Scattered reports from the early nineteenth century attested to the existence of a one-horned rhino in sub-Saharan Africa.

Present status: The two extant species of African rhinos have two horns. The black rhinoceros lingers tenuously in widely scattered pockets of East, Central, and South Africa; the white rhinoceros is now limited to KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa and the borderlands of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Uganda. For the most part, rumors of a one-horned species exist in areas that are no longer part of the range of either species. Possible explanations:

(1) A Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) or White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) that has lost one horn due to injury.

(2) According to Richard Lydekker, some white rhinos never fully develop a posterior horn; the growth becomes only an inconspicuous tubercle.

(3) An unknown species of one-horned rhinoceros that formerly existed on the African continent.

Sources: Andrew Smith, Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa, vol. 1 (London: Smith, Elder, 1838); The Pictorial Museum of Animated Nature (London: Charles Knight, 1844); Fulgence Fresnel, "Sur l'existence d'une espèce unicorne de rhinocéros dans la partie tropicale de l'Afrique," Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences 26 (1848): 281; Richard Lydekker, "A One-Horned White Rhinoceros," The Field 110 (December 28, 1907): 119; Elizabeth A. Voigt, Mapungubwe: An Archaeozooological Interpretation ofan Iron Age Community (Pretoria: Transvaal Museum, 1983).

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