Animal Poachery

Flamingo Rhinoceros Spider

Ξ Poem Rhinoceros Notes
© 1983..2009 by Andreas Wittenstein. Some rights reserved. (CC)

This poem is meant to be rotated counterclockwise and viewed with its ‘proboscis-hair turned osseous’ pointing upward.

rhinoceros: The name rhinoceros derives from ρίνο, an old Greek word for ‘nose’; and κέρας, Greek for ‘horn’, referring the rhinoceros's most unusual feature, one or more horns growing upward from the middle of its snout, to a length of over one and a half meters in one species, the white rhino.

fossilous: Today's rhinoceroses are the last surviving members of an ancient branch of animals that were the first to develop hooves, around 50 million years ago, and reached their evolutionary peak around 30 million years ago, when many more rhinoceros species existed, some of them the largest mammals ever to walk the earth.

monstrous: In the sense of a fabulous creature whose body resembles a grotesque combination of parts of other creatures, the rhinoceros surely qualifies as a monster, with the body of an elephant, the head of a pig, the horns of a bull sticking up out of the middle of its snout, eyes no bigger than a housecat's, the lumpy armor-plated hide of a crocodile, and the rotating ears of a donkey.

colossalest: The white rhinoceros, weighing up to 2300 kilograms, is the second-heaviest land animal alive today.

preposterous: To skeptical Europeans who had never encountered a rhinoceros, the notion of a beast with a single central horn —a unicorn— seemed a fanciful myth.

proboscis-hair: The nose-horns of the rhinoceros are made of keratin (horn protein) from modified hair cells, as are all true horns —as opposed to the bony antlers of deer and their relatives.

osseous: Though seemingly hard as bone, rhinoceros horns are actually solid horn, and not at all ossified, unlike the horns of all other animals, which are hollow with a stubby core of bone. As a result, the rhinoceros sometimes has its horn torn off in battle.

wide-nozzlous: The enormous snout of the rhinoceros is second only to that of the hippopotamus in width.

dinosaurous: In its size and central horn, the only terrestrial animal similar to the rhinoceros was the ceratopsian dinosaur Monoclonius.

obstreperous: Though strict herbivores, rhinoceroses can be combative animals, fighting viciously to defend their territory, or over access to a female, charging with lowered head at up to 55 kilometers per hour to skewer their enemies with their horns. Due to their poor eyesight, they are easily surprised by visitors approaching from downwind. Not a good idea.

resonorous: The huge skull of the rhinoceros is an excellent echo-chamber for its grunts and snorts, but is a poor match for projecting its high-pitched roar.

For more information on rhinoceroses, see the Wikipedia Rhinoceros article.

To help save the five surviving rhino species from extinction, visit the following sites:

International Rhino Foundation
Neushoorn Stichting Nederland
Rhino Resource Center
Save the Rhino International
SOS Rhino
Sebakwe Black Rhino Trust
UK Rhino Group

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