African black rhino (Diceros bicornis).—Camera Press/Pictorial Parade

Any of five extant African and Asian species (family Rhinocerotidae) of three-toed horned ungulates. One of the largest of all land animals (the white rhinoceros is second only to the elephant), the rhinoceros is particularly distinguished by one or two horns—growths of keratin, a fibrous hair protein—on its upper snout. All have thick, virtually hairless skin that, in the three Asian species, forms platelike folds at the shoulders and thighs. Rhinos grow to 8–14 ft (2.5–4.3 m) long and 3–6.5 ft (1.5–2 m) tall; adults weigh 3–5 tons. Most are solitary inhabitants of open grassland, scrub forest, or marsh, but the Sumatran rhino lives in deep forest. The African black rhino browses on succulent plants, the white and great Indian rhinos graze on short grasses, and the Sumatran and Javan rhinos browse on bushes and bamboo. In the second half of the 20th century, the rhinoceroses were brought to the brink of extinction by hunters, mostly seeking the horn. All five species are threatened or endangered.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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