Life and death of rhino (Stephanorhinus sp.) from Western Poland: a multiproxy paleoenvironmental approach.
About 120 thousand years ago the present territory of Poland, as well as the rest of Europe, was inhabited by animals which today are either completely extinct or have retreated to other regions as a result of climate changes. Some of them are only very rarely found as fossils. This is why the find of an almost complete skeleton of an extinct rhinoceros (Stephanorhinus) is unique on the scale of Europe.
The skeleton was found near Gorzów Wielkopolski (NW Poland) during road construction. It was embedded in lake deposits which are remains of two ancient lakes, now no longer in existence. The deposits, containing remains of other animals and also of plants, make it possible to reconstruct the environment in which the rhinoceros lived, as well as the climate and vegetation at that time.
This will require an array of specialist analyses of the remains of plants and animals (remains of vascular plants, algae, crustaceans, insects, molluscs), as well as chemical and physical analyses of the deposits. Besides reconstructing the past environment, the studies will make it possible to prepare a 3D reconstruction of the rhinoceros skeleton, as well as a reconstruction of the animal’s external appearance and its natural habitat which in turn will provide the basis for a museum exhibition to make the results available to the general public to aid popularisation of science.