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Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Class Information
Class Mammalia
Order Information
Order Perissodactyla
Family Information
Family Rhinocerotidae
Genus Information
Genus Ceratotherium
Species Information
Species C. simum
D. sumatrensis
D. bicornis
R. unicornis
R. sondaicus
Population statistics
Population Less than 5,000
Conservation status Endangered

Rhinoceros (Greek: ῥῑνόκερως; rhinos and κέρας keras; "nose-horn") refers to several large pachydermatous herbivorous land mammals of Africa and Asia, which bear one or two nasal horns. Rhinoceros have poor vision but a good sense of smell, and despite their size - which is exceeded only by elephants - they can quickly face danger and charge at speeds up to 35 mph.

Five species are in existence today, but severely-reduced in numbers; four species currently are near the brink of extinction as a result of the illegal trade in rhino horns:

  • White or square-lipped rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum
  • Black, or hook-lipped rhinoceros Diceros bicornis
  • Greater Indian rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis
  • Javan rhinoceros Rhinoceros sondaicus
  • Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis

A number of extinct varieties are also known, notably the woolly rhinoceros of the Ice Age, a contemporary of the Woolly Mammoth. Several frozen corpses of this animal have been discovered in the Siberian permafrost.


Rhinos are heavy-bodied animals, bearing a barrel-shaped body on stout, pillar-like legs with three-toed hooves. The skin is thick, grey-colored, and except for the Sumatran rhino (which has a thin coat of extensive body hair) nearly hairless; the Indian and Javan rhinos have a folded skin pattern which gives the animals an appearance of being "armored".

At just over 2,000 lbs in weight, the Sumatran rhino is the smallest living species; the white rhino on the other hand has adult bulls which average over 5,000 lbs, with several on record of being over 7,000 lbs.

The head is large and bears the horns for which it is named. The genera Rhinoceros have a single, large horn; the remaining species have two, of which the front horn is longer. Lacking a bony core, these horns are made entirely of keratin - the same material found in hair and fingernails - which continue to grow throughout life.