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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Rhinocerotidae
Genus: Ceratotherium
Species: C. mauritanicum
Binomial name
Ceratotherium mauritanicumPomel, 1888

Ceratotherium mauritanicum is an extinct species of rhinoceros found in the Late Pliocene to earliest Holocene of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria. Slightly older fossils from the Pliocene of eastern Africa were also proposed to belong to this species, but the most recent study consider them to belong to a somewhat more primitive species, Ceratotherium efficax.

The phylogenetic position of C. mauritanicum is somewhat disputed. One model see it as to be located in a direct line of ancestry between the primitive Ceratotherium neumayri and the living white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum). Alternatively it was proposed to be the descendant of Ceratotherium efficax and an extinct sister taxon to C. simum. It retained primitive characters contemporaneously to the more progressive evolution of the genus Ceratotherium in eastern and southern Africa.

C. mauritanicum was widely distributed across northwestern Africa during the Quaternary, and often associated with archaeological sites. Petroglyphs in northern Africa occasionally depict rhinoceri but often are to schematic to allow a distinction of the figured species. Those showing characters typical of the white rhinoceros may in fact represent C. mauritanicum instead of C. simum, which may have been very similar in external appearance in life. It vanished during the Mesolithic and currently there is no evidence that it eventually survived into the historical era.

C. mauritanicum is supposed to have had an ecology very similar to the extant C. simum. It lived in open savannah landscapes with sufficient water and vegetation, a biome that has vanished from the Maghreb since the Early Holocene. Its food was probably dominated by grass.

In popular culture[]

  • In Walking with Beasts, Ceratotherium mauritanicum was lived acted by its modern relative the white rhinoceros. It was one of the background modern animals in this 4th episode. It was shown grazing besides prehistoric creatures such as Dinofelis and Australopithecus but ignoring them.
  • It also made a Video Game appearance in Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey.
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