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Time-travelling Rhinoceros by Eurwentala Time-travelling Rhinoceros by Eurwentala
Teleoceras major, the corgi-shaped rhinoceros from the Miocene of Nebraska, and a modern hippopotamus for comparison.

Teleoceras was apparently a rhino version of hippo, but it's so barrel-shaped and short-legged that it makes actual hippoes look quite athletic. It's known from hundreds or perfectly preserved skeletons known as the Ashfall Fossil Beds.

12 million years ago, a volcano erupted, and tons and tons of fine volcanic ash and dust was blown to the area where herds of Teleoceras lived. Fine shards of volcanic glass filled their lungs and soon, whole herds died and were buried into the endless ash. The animals still lie in the position they died in: on their stomachs or sides, some calves still in nursing position.

The title refers to an alternate explanation I came up with when submitting this to the graphics competition of a computer festival. To the nerds, I explained she's a time travelling secret agent rhinoceros that was sent to find out how life is in the Antropocene. As all the modern rhinos just laughed at her stubby legs, she went and seduced herself a male hippopotamus (pictured), who still hasn't realized there's something weird about the newest addition to his harem.

Photoshop trying to look like watercolor.
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:iconolofmoleman:
olofmoleman Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2014  Student Digital Artist
It looks, oddly cute...
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:icond3in0nychu5:
d3in0nychu5 Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
A lovely piece, though I must admit I'm even more exited by your use of the term Anthropocene. I actually decided a while back that we should be referring to the modern era by that term, not realizing many other people had already beat me to it!
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014
Thanks! I stumbled upon the term a few years ago and adopted it right away.

I think it's only sensible, given that smaller changes than what humans are causing have been enough to name a new geological period. I also kind of like the implication that it's going to be an actual geological period (and we're not going to kill ourselves off during the next decades or centuries).
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:iconmar16cris:
mar16cris Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
now looking at it, it opens a place for speculative evolution there (fully acuatic rhinos FTW :v)
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:iconaloodonguy67:
Aloodonguy67 Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014  Student Artist
This is so cooool!
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:iconvasix:
vasix Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Good lord Teleoceras seems to be even more extreme in its aquatic developments than a hippo! Were its legs really that short? I mean, for its stomach to almost touch the ground?
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014
Yeah, that's pretty much as accurate as I could manage (with my paleontologist boyfriend saying my first sketches were too leggy). It has far shorter and stubbier legs and barrel-like torso than a hippo: you can easily see that, if you try image searching both skeletons. Hippos are actually surprisingly gracile under all the fat.

It's actually very weird, as Teleoceras pretty much lacks the other aquatic adaptations hippoes have. Their eyes and nostrils aren't high on the top of their heads, and I'm having a bit trouble imagining how exactly did they wallow in water while still holding their eyes up.
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:iconvasix:
vasix Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
So in other words Teleoceras is aquatic without being adapted so? Maybe it lived in very, very shallow water, even shallower than what hippos frequent, like little channels or something?
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2014
Perhaps, yes. I also wonder if they simply didn't need to be very good at being aquatic, as in their environment there were no other semiaquatic mammals to compete with them, and apparently not many formidable predators either.

This page by University of Nebraska lists all (?) the animals found at the site where the Teleoceras killed by ash have been found: ashfall.unl.edu/ashfallanimals…

Teleoceras was, of course, more widespread than that, and is known from multiple species around North America, so Ashfall beds aren't the whole story.

Or it could be that the structure of the modern rhinoceros skull just isn't easily modified into a hippo-like form. The earlier amynodontid rhinos did have more obvious aquatic adaptations, but Teleoceras evolved later from animals that were essentially like modern rhinos. Perhaps the skull, with horn and everything, was just too specialized to change that fast.
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:iconvasix:
vasix Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Probably....
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