Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 12th, 2006
Zoologist Darren Naish has written a thoughtful essay on “Are Sumatran Rhinos Really Living Fossil?”
His blog is in response to my comments on the “living fossil” issue, discussed here. I disagree with Naish’s restrictive parameters, of course, as I see this more an issue of educational semantics influenced by zoology, not ruled by it. Darren Naish’s approach is worthy of your attention and he has every right to his very informed point of view.
Needless to say, in this case, I was employing the “living fossil” definition that this rhino species is “a living species/clade with many ‘primitive’ characteristics in appearance, in which the species has many ancestral characteristics (plesiomorphies).”
Most discussions of the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus) give credence to the notion that they display traits of and links to the Ice Age wooly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis). [The Family Rhinocerotidae developed in the Late Eocene Epoch (55 to 36 million years ago) or Early Oligocene Epoch (36 to 22.5 million years ago) and spread across North America, Asia, Europe and Africa. The woolly rhinoceros appeared during the Mid-Pleistocene Epoch (about 500,000 years ago) in eastern Asia.] The Asian Rhino Specialist Group, for example, notes in their materials that the Sumatran is the last representative of the wooly rhino.
I will continue to use the “living fossil” phrase to highlight the points I wish to make, just as Charles Darwin, E. O. Wilson, Willy Ley, Bernard Heuvelmans, and Ivan T. Sanderson have before me.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.