Natural History Museum lecture to focus on ‘Rhinos: Then and Now’

Published 8:20 am Thursday, May 1, 2014

Since the rhinoceros horned its way into the animal world, it’s been a singularly successful creature.
Even in North America, where the only rhinos found today are in zoos – or lining pickup truck beds – the lineage lasted nearly 50 million years.
On Saturday, a researcher will offer a glimpse at “Rhinos: Then and Now” in a free public lecture at the East Tennessee State University and General Shale Natural History Museum and Visitor Center at the Gray Fossil Site
The talk will begin at 1 p.m.
Rachel Short will offer a close-up look atthe rhinoceros lineage, particularly North American rhinoceroses. It was about 54 million years ago that rhino-like animals appeared in North America; until the lineage went extinct in North America about 4.5 million years ago, rhinos were a very successful and diverse group.
The rhino discovered in 2004 at the Gray Fossil Site could have been one of the last rhinos to live in North America.
Today, rhinos continue to live in Asia and Africa, though their numbers are dwindling and most species are endangered.
Short studied rhinos at the Gray Fossil Site as part of her master’s thesis in the ETSU Geosciences program, from which she graduated in 2013. Currently, she is an Appalachia CARES/AmeriCorps member at the Natural History Museum.
While she will discuss other members of the rhino family, short focus on the rhino found at Gray.
“Because of the great success of the rhino lineage, rhinos are frequently used to determine the age of fossil sites in North America,” she said. “At the Gray Fossil Site, we know the site is younger than 4.5 million years old because that is when the rhinos went extinct.”
Short’s “Rhinos: Then and Now” presentation is part of a speaker series hosted by the museum and is sponsored by the ETSU Don Sundquist Center of Excellence in Paleontology.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 866-202-6223. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 439-8346.

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