Looking like a cross between a Rhino and an Elephant, Arsinoitherium lived during the Oligocene Period (36 to 30 million years ago). Discovered in Fayum, Egypt, Arsinoitherium was named for Queen Arsinoe II (316-270 BCE) of Ptolemy Egypt. (Her palace was built over the fossils of this ancient Mammal.) Considered to be an Afrotherian (a Mammal originating from Africa), Arsinoitherium casts a new light on the poorly known natural history of Afro-Arabia before that continent’s merger with other lands.
The only member of her family, Arsinoitherium has no ancestors or descendants. However, She is related to Elephants, Hyraxes, and Sea Cows of today. Moreover, Arsinoitherium lived side by side with more advanced Elephant species. However, when Africa merged with Europe and Asia, many new animals migrated into her territory. After that, Arsinoitherium probably went extinct from the increased competition.
Preferring to live near mangrove swamps, Arsinoitherium was particular in what She ate. Possessing the high crowned teeth of a browsing animal, Arsinoitherium was fond of fruit and leaves. Her best known feature was her two enormous rhino horns above her nose. Arsinoitherium also had two tiny knob-like horns on the top of her head. Furthermore, her body was similar to a modern Elephant.
The world is sadder for the loss of Arsinoitherium for there was only one of Her. She was a unique being who existed for a brief time. However, Arsinoitherium has many lessons to impart to people. Neither a Rhino nor an Elephant, She stood alone as Herself. Like Queen Arsinoe II of Ptolemy Egypt, She was the melding of two entities into one whole. Arsinoitherium became as a third, a unique being of her own.
She tells us that we do not have to be one type or another, we can be both. Merge the many into one is what She teaches, for there is always a third way. Life is not “either/or” but multiple choice. Move beyond multiple choice to unify the whole.