The White rhino can weigh as much as 3,600 kilograms (8,000 pounds), yet somehow, their feet manage to take all those tons in stride. Results from a study in 2012 showed that, with each step, their toes feel peak pressures of 75 pounds per square inch (psi), and the pads of their feet, 15 psi. Which isn’t exactly that much when you think about it.
Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary This was an important study because in addition to figuring out how rhino feet manage the strain from the weight, the scientists also investigated how the rhinos’ movement differs from that of other large land mammals — in particular, elephants.
Unlike elephants, whose column like legs turn into feet without much notice, rhinos have relatively thin legs that splay out into larger, circular pads tipped with three rigid toes.
As well as those differences in anatomy, the researchers learned that the two types of animals carry their weight very differently. Rhinos put more pressure on the inside (edge) of their feet, while the elephants put pressure on the outside.
So why should anyone care about this kind of rhino research?
The study of large mammal locomotion may sound like science at its most irrelevant, but it actually has several applications. This research was mainly intended to help scientists detect, monitor and treat abnormal foot pressure patterns in rhinos. Such abnormalities could indicate lameness or deeper health problems.