Initially believed to have been an example of a woolly rhinoceros, closer inspection by experts from the University of Wrocław revealed it was a specimen of the much rarer Stephanorhinus or Merck’s rhinoceros. The palaeontologists came to the rescue after the builders, saying they were going to dump the bones, went to watch a football match.
The specimen was found among fossils of vertebrates from about 210 million years ago, including lungfish and turtles, excavated at the archeological site in the village of Kocury, southwest Poland.
The dentary bone with two rows of cusps on molars and double-rooted teeth is the oldest of its type in the world and belonged to a new early-diverging haramiyid species from the late Triassic period named Kalaallitkigun jenkinsi (Greenlandic for 'tooth from Greenland') by its discoverers.
According to the project’s team leader, the pioneering early ‘rabbit’ brain research is “very important for the evolutionary biology of the entire Euarchontoglires group, including humans.”
The giant toothless creature was more closely related to mammals than dinosaurs and looked like a hippo with bent legs, a beak and two tusks.