Southeastern Section–55th Annual Meeting (23–24 March 2006)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 4:45 PM


WALLACE, Steven C., Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geology, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614-1709,

Recent finds of the short-legged rhinoceros, Teleoceras, from the Gray Fossil Site (Late Miocene) of Washington County, TN, afford a closer look at this interesting animal. The Gray sample, which likely represents T. hicksi, includes at least three adults (including a complete skeleton) and one juvenile (likely fetal). Based on the small proportion of the site that has been worked, this sample will grow substantially.

Several interesting observations of the Gray sample can already be made: 1) although the nasals are very thick and fused, their smooth surface clearly demonstrates the lack of a terminal nasal horn. It seems more likely that the thickness of the nasals, and the complicated nature of the suture between them, acted in combination as a battering ram during male to male interactions; 2) of the two individuals preserving the manus, the MCV is present (as a small vestigial nubbin) in one, and completely lacking in the other. The presence of a mass of bone (in the specimen lacking) suggests that the MCV simply fused with the MCIV early in development. Reduction of the MCV is typical within many rhinoceroses, but the degree and frequency of the reduction within this population may prove significant; 3) there is a very small, vestigial p2 on the left side of the jaw of ETMNH-609 that is lacking on the right. The p2 is typically lost within this species, so the frequency of its presence could prove systematically significant; and lastly 4) limb elements from Gray (if indeed T. hicksi) are proportionally thinner, yet longer, than conspecific material from Florida. At present, these proportional differences do not warrant elevation of the Gray population to specific status, however, additional material is needed.