University of Leicester Archaeological Services

Glaston, Rutland

Glaston Project

April - Oct 2000

Image of the hyena den © Jane Brayne

Glaston Early Upper Palaeolithic Project: The Animals

Woolly Rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis)

Image of woolly rhinoceros being brought to ground by a hunting pack of spotted hyena © Jane BrayneThe majority of the animal bones found on the site were from the woolly rhinoceros with at least six individuals represented. As shown below, many of the bones had been gnawed and crushed by hyenas and the rhinos appear to have been their main prey.



Photograph of woolly rhinoceros leg bones that have been gnawed by hyena to create these characteristic ‘napkin rings’The woolly rhinoceros was one of the larger Ice Age mammals and was widespread throughout the tundra of the Mammoth Steppe. It was well adapted to the cold with thick shaggy fur, small ears, short legs and a massive body that all helped to lessen heat loss.





Photograph of woolly rhinoceros bones from the initial discovery, including vertebrae, remains of limb bones and teeth, and pelvic piecesWell-preserved remains of woolly rhinoceros have been found in the Ukraine where a complete body was recovered from salt and petroleum deposits. Right, woolly rhinoceros bones recovered from the initial discovery.  On the left of the picture are several vertebrae, in the centre are the remains of limb bones and teeth. and on the right are several pelvic pieces. The horn of the woolly rhinoceros was flattened from side to side unlike the rounded profile of the modern African rhino. This is likely to indicate that it was used in a similar way to the tusks of the woolly mammoth, to brush aside snow to reveal the underlying vegetation.

Photograph of woolly rhinoceros leg bones


Left, woolly rhinoceros leg bones in various states of preservation. The uppermost bone is the best preserved, the lower examples have been gnawed by spotted hyena.






Photograph of teeth of adult (top) and juvenile (bottom) woolly rhinoceros


Right, teeth of adult (top) and juvenile (bottom) woolly rhinoceros.








Photograph of complete lower jawbone of woolly rhinoceros discovered during excavationsDuring the excavation of the best-preserved hyena burrow, this complete lower jawbone of woolly rhinoceros was revealed.  The thin outer bone of the jaw had vanished but the teeth survived in their anatomically correct positions


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UPDATED: 11th April 2014
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