This case presents 24 copies of a rhinoceros tooth (the minimum number of teeth a rhino has) from the Museum of Natural History, Oxford’s collection, presented after his death by his sister in 1865. This, together with seven other molars was identified by A.J.E Cave in 1962 as belonging to a white rhinoceros, the lectotype of Rhinoceros simus Burchell, 1817 South Africa. This species is now more commonly known as Ceratotherium simium.
Burchell’s original specimen of Rhinoceros simus, A. J. E. Cave, 1962.
Burchell’s Rhinocerotine drawings. , A. J. E. Cave, 1947.
William Burchell first described the species Rhinoceros simus in 1817, from his sighting at Chué Springs, South Africa in 1812, 26 degrees latitude. He wrote “As we have killed 10 examples, I had had sufficient opportunities of observing the characters which distinguish them. They consist principally in the form of the mouth, as may be verified by comparing the Rhinoceros bicornis and the Rhinoceros unicornis with the figure which I have carefully drawn after nature. I have named this species Rhinoceros simus.” (Cited in Rookmaaker, LC, A chronological survey of bibliographical and iconographical sources on rhinoceroses in southern Africa from 1795 to 1875: reconstructing views on classification and changes in distribution.
Burchell arrived at the Cape in 1810 and collected extensive zoological and botanical specimens in the six years he spent in South Africa. His Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa was published in 1822. He committed suicide in 1863.