Mounted specimen on display at the Harvard Museum of Natural History
Reconstruction by Roman Uchytel
When: Miocene and Pliocene (~17.5 - 4.5 million years ago, and maybe a couple million years more!)
Where: North America
What: Teleoceras was an aquatic rhinoceros. It was a very common beast in the North American Miocene. Yes, rhinos in North America! I have been eager to share with you all the amazing diversity of North American rhinos. The discovery of a tremendous amount of rhinos, not just in terms of numbers of species but their diversity, is one of the great surprises of North American paleontological expeditions in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This continent was home to rhinos the size of modern pigs, rhinos that could run quickly, and even aquatic rhinos! Teleoceras is one of these aquatic rhinos.
Teleoceras had very short legs for a rhino and a nubby horn. This horn is actually pretty large in the scheme of things. As much as the modern rhinos are famous for their horns the vast majority of fossil rhinos show no evidence of having a horn. We can tell this via the presence or lack of a rough surface on the nasal bones. In life Teleoceras would have probably occupied a niche very simular to the modern hippopotamus.