You are here:

Interspecies Conflict/Battle Of The Rhino's!


Hi again BK happy 2016 and I know it will be for me because im graduating from college this year. So any ways on to the question. Who would win between the modern white rhino and the prehistoric wolly rhino? My moneys on the wolly rhino but I would like to get your opinion on it.

Thank You

Hello Trish.

White Rhinoceros vs Woolly Rhinoceros: These 2 rhinoceroses are believed to be relatively close in size and weight.  A full-grown white rhinoceros can attain a weight of 4 tons, but it usually doesn't exceed 2 1/2 tons.  Size estimates for the prehistoric woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta) vary somewhat.  According to "Prehistoric Life: The Definitive Visual History Of Life On Earth" by Dr. Jason Anderson, Dr. Roger Benson, Stephen Brusatte, and others (authors for the vertebrates section), "this ice-age woolly rhinoceros was about the size of a large white rhino, and bore a thick coat of long, shaggy hair.  It had a pair of horns that were oval in cross section and curved backward, which it probably used to shift snow while foraging".  The book "Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Life" by Andrew Campbell and Steve Parker states the woolly rhino reached a length of 11.5ft and a weight of 4.5 tons, had a front horn could reach 3.3ft in length, and was most closely related to the Sumatran rhino.  This is close to the size of today's white rhinoceroses (heavier but shorter).  Other sources assign lesser weights to it (2.5 to 3.5 tons).  "The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures" by Dougal Dixon mentions the woolly rhino's horn and states "the front one is up to 1m (3ft) long and flattened from side to side.  Scuff marks on the horn suggest that Coelodonta used it for clearing snow from its grazing patches."  The woolly rhinoceros may have had a more prominent shoulder hump than the white rhino, but the white rhino is probably more uniformly robust from front-to-back.  A battle between these 2 rhinos would likely be close.  The white rhino's very tough hide would probably offer better protection from a horn thrust than the thick hair of the woolly rhino.  The white rhino's stout horn could be driven into a target with great force, and the chances of it being damaged in combat would be less than the flatter, curved horn of the woolly rhino.  Agility was probably comparable, and aggression levels in prehistoric herbivores can't be determined accurately enough to make a comparison.  Average horn length (for a reach advantage) was probably comparable.  I don't think either rhino had enough of an advantage in any area to assign it the title of "better fighter", but the tougher hide and stronger horn of the white rhino are the best selling points for its corner.  Although I would slightly favor the white rhino at parity, the woolly rhino may have weighed a bit more, and a 10-15% weight advantage would certainly swing things into its favor.  Close fight; depends on the sizes.

Best wishes for 2016, finishing college, and beyond!

Best Regards.

Interspecies Conflict

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.


From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

©2016 All rights reserved.