9 Amazing Facts About Rhinos That Will Make You Want To Save Them

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1. Rhinos would give Usain Bolt a run for his money

[Video credit: YouTube]

Over a 100-meter sprint, humans max out at about 23 mph. Rhinos, on the other hand, have been clocked at about 28 mph and only run on their toes. And that's in spite of the fact that ...

2. ... Rhinos are the size of SUVs.[Image credit: C_Baltrusch]

The biggest rhinoceros species, the white rhino, stands 6 feet at the shoulder and tips the scale at 6,000 pounds. (That's roughly the weight of a Cadillac Escalade.)

3. Rhino species go back 50 million years.[Image credit: Julie Naylor Selan]

The first rhinoceroses began lumbering around the earth about 50 million years ago. But some of these giant horned beasts -- like the woolly rhino, covered in a thick mat of curls -- looked a bit different than the rhinos that live today.

4. Rhinos communicate with squeaks, snorts and grunts (and poop).[Image credit: Park Street Pro]

Black rhinoceroses use a variety of sounds to convey emotion: snorts for anger, huffs for greetings and even confused squeaks. They also leave behind piles of pungent droppings to mark territory.

5. Rhinos make their own sun block.[Video credit: YouTube]

Rhinos -- which will soak in muck for up to three hours at a time -- rely on mud to protect their skin from biting pests and the blistering sun.

6. Rhinos come in five types.[Image credit: rosshuggett]

There are five species of rhinoceros: black, Indian, Javan, Sumatran and white. Somewhat confusingly, white rhinos aren't white and black rhinos aren't black -- all rhinos have grayish skin.

7. Those horns look impressive? They're really just fingernails.[Image credit: USFWS Headquarters]

Unlike the horns of most animals -- which are mostly bone within a thin envelope of keratin -- a rhino's horn is made of keratin, the same tough proteins that make up human hair and fingernails. That's not to say rhinos are simply sporting curves of stiff hair -- strong mineral deposits run up the core of a rhino's horn like a stick through a popsicle.

8. Yes, rhino horns are awesome but only when attached to rhinos.[Image credit: Dedi Candra, Yayasan Badak Indonesia]

Despite persistent myths, ingesting rhinoceros horn powder has the same restorative properties as chewing on split ends -- that is to say, none. But that hasn't stopped poachers from targeting rhinos for their horns, seen as status symbols in places like Vietnam. Which is particularly terrible because:

9. Rhinos are rarer than you think.[Image credit: Lip Kee]

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, which tracks threatened species, lists three out of five types of rhinos as critically endangered: black, Javan and Sumatran rhinoceroses -- with a wild population of fewer than 50, the Javan rhino is the rarest land animal on the planet.