Woolly rhinos were covered with thick, shaggy fur. (ДиБгд/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Woolly rhinos were covered with thick, shaggy fur. (ДиБгд/CC BY-SA 4.0)

A replica of the Chauvet Cave in southern France recreates the paintings in the real cave. Can you find the rhinos? (AP/Claude Paris)

A replica of the Chauvet Cave in southern France recreates the paintings in the real cave. Can you find the rhinos? (AP/Claude Paris)

Since most people will never get to see the drawings in the real Chauvet Cave, scientists, artists, and the French government created the replica. (AP/Claude Paris)

Since most people will never get to see the drawings in the real Chauvet Cave, scientists, artists, and the French government created the replica. (AP/Claude Paris)

What other animals do you see in the drawings? (AP/Claude Paris)

What other animals do you see in the drawings? (AP/Claude Paris)

Visitors to the cave replica can see more than 400 paintings of horses, bears, rhinoceroses, and mammoths, plus hand prints and carvings. (AP/Claude Paris)

Visitors to the cave replica can see more than 400 paintings of horses, bears, rhinoceroses, and mammoths, plus hand prints and carvings. (AP/Claude Paris)

Meet Woolly Rhino

Posted: March 1, 2021

So . . . what’s a woolly rhinoceros? We’re glad you asked!

People have discovered fossils of extinct woolly rhinos in Europe, North Africa, and Asia. Scientists believe these creatures died out thousands of years ago. You can tell only so much from the scattered remains of creatures that old. But we do know this: They were big. Like modern rhinos, their horns stuck out near the fronts of their heads. Unlike our rhinos, thick, shaggy hair covered them.

Many of the woolly rhinos people have studied were buried in ice, just like our new woolly friend from Siberia. But not all woolly rhinoceroses lived in the frozen North. Some made their homes in warmer grasslands.

Size up the woolly rhinoceros to an animal still alive today—the white rhinoceros. Both measure about six feet tall and 12 feet long. In both creatures, the front horn is bigger than the back horn. Just like today’s rhinos, the woolly version hauled around a beefy body on short legs. It probably liked the same foods too: grasses, bushes, moss, and trees. Unlike the rhinos you’ll see in the zoo, woolly rhino’s fuzzy coat helped it survive frigid climates. Both white and ancient woolly rhinos share just one predator: humans.

We could spend our whole lives trying to trace the works of our incredibly creative God. The book of Job talks about an animal called Behemoth. It says this animal eats grass and its “bones are tubes of bronze.” (Job 40:15-18) Maybe Behemoth was a hippo or a dinosaur. But could it have been a woolly rhino? It’s a mystery! In any case, we know who preserved this woolly rhino in Siberia: God.

By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. — Job 37:10

Woolly’s Neighbors?

Ancient painters in Chauvet-Pont d’Arc, a cave in present-day France, seemed to have enjoyed capturing woolly rhinos in their art. These early woolly rhino paintings take their place beside depictions of some creatures you might recognize:

  • horses
  • bison
  • ibex
  • bears
  • reindeer
  • musk oxen
  • panthers

Might these animals have been woolly rhino’s neighbors? Perhaps. Sadly, some of Woolly’s other possible neighbors painted in the cave aren’t around anymore:

  • mammoths—huge, hairy elephants
  • aurochs—large, wild cattle
  • megaloceros—ancient elk that sometimes grew to gigantic size