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Rhinos' Bones Changed Over Past 50 Million Years, Study Reveals

First Posted: Feb 04, 2016 10:37 AM EST

Many massive species have managed to evolve over the past few millions years. The rhino species is among some of these giant species that has evolved and increased in size over the past 50 million years. However, a new study found that rhinos' bones may have strained in order to support their hefty and active bodies over the last 50 million years.

In previous studies, researchers have observed numerous bone health issues and defects, such as bone degeneration, infection and inflammation in many extinct rhino species in North American and living African and Asian rhino species. Scientists have always been curious about the relationship between animal size, bone health, and bone function in an evolutionary approach.

The researchers analyzed seven physical indicators of rhino mass, bone health and bone structure in six extinct species and one living rhino species from 50 million years ago to the present (non-avian dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago). The researchers found that there was an increase of osteopathology from 28 percent to 65-80 percent as new species began to evolve. The black rhino is the only living species in the study, which had 50 percent fewer osteopathologies compared to extinct species.

The team noted that as body mass increased among species, diseases also increased significantly.

The researchers' findings could be used to determine the bone health of hoofed animals and even humans. The findings of this study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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