Robert Jacob Gordon's original account of the African Black rhinoceros



An account is presented of the memoranda and drawings comprising the description of the African Black rhinoceros prepared at the Cape of Good Hope in 1778 by Robert Jacob Gordon (1743–95) and now incorporated in the Gordon Atlas preserved in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Gordon's rhinoceros information was placed at the disposal of contemporaries, whereby part of it entered zoological literature and occasioned the temporary recognition of a “Gordon's rhinoceros”. His material never attained independent publication and its historical and anatomical merit has thus escaped recognition. Impressive in standards of observation and delineation it represents a pioneer investigation of African rhinoceros morphology.