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Extinct rhinoceros from Dera Bugti on display

October 24, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Oct 24: The Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) on Wednesday opened its doors to its newest life size exhibit of the largest land mammal, believed to be older than the Himalayan mountain range.

Standing as high as a two storied building, the Baluchitherium was displayed in the museum lawns, where guests had to throw their heads back for a good look at its face. The model is as real as a life size Baluchitherium with skin, hair, and eyes.

According to researchers at the museum, the Baluchi is for Balochistan and therium for beast. The Baluchitherium was an extinct rhinoceros that lived on Earth, about 30 million years ago.

“The average height of an adult Baluchitherium is estimated to have been 18 feet at the shoulder and roughly two tons (2, 000 kg),” said Paleontologist and curator at the PMNH, Ghazala Roohi.

Ms Roohi had been part of the joint Pakistan and French expedition that excavated the fossils of the mammal in Balochistan back in 2000.

The life size fibre model of the exhibit was completed in collaboration with Montpellier University, France and Natural History Museum, Paris, the Natural History Museum, Toulouse, France and the PMNH.

“The model was designed on computers by French experts to authenticate the mammal’s real appearance,” said Ghazal Roohi.

According to an expert, the fossils of the Baluchitherium had been found in Pakistan and as far as China, explaining the mammal’s migratory movements.

Fossils of this giant land mammal were first discovered in the Bugti Hills in 1908 but included only a few bones. However, the major discovery was made in 2000, when the joint team of paleontologists from the University of Montpellier, France and Pakistan Museum of Natural History, Islamabad found almost the complete skeleton of the Baluchitherium from the north of Sui in Bugti Hills, after a search of almost three years.

“This discovery of the largest land mammal has increased the geological significance of Pakistan for research in the field of paleontology and has made the country known to geoscientists and biologists all over the world,” said Ghazala Roohi.

Ghazala Roohi said that any further excavation had to be postponed because of the deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan.

The visitors were in for another surprise when the Minister for Science and Technology, Mir Changez Khan Jamali announced another display of a skeleton of the Blue Whale, also open to visitors.

The PMNH announced that it would soon open its doors to another exhibit, the conserved Whale Shark that was found in the Arabian Sea, earlier in February this year.