Unicorns are legendary creatures often mentioned in various ancient myths, but did these animals really exist?
A new study reveals unicorns were in fact real, but they looked slightly different from what we image today.
A Siberian unicorn fossil, Elasmotherium sibiricum has been discovered in Kazakhstan. Before now, researchers thought the creature went extinct 350,000 years ago, but studies now reveal the unicorn existed around the same time early humans did.
The Siberian unicorn was a mix of a rhino and a mammoth. Analyzing one skull from the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan, the researchers found that particular specimen to have died just 29,000 years ago.
It’s called a “Siberian Unicorn”. Paleontologists have discovered a fossil in Kazakhstan that’s only 29 thousand years old. Image credit: Weather Channel
How did this one survive while others were long gone? Researchers suggest the area where this specimen was found could have been a “refugium,” or a part of Kazakhstan where the animals had a better chance of survival.
Painting of the Elasmotherium sibiricum or ‘Siberian unicorn’ by Heinrich Harder.
Migration could have played a role as well, researchers say. According to CS Monitor, the part of Kazakhstan where the fossil was found could have been a “comparatively gentle microclimate” while the larger population died out in harsher conditions elsewhere.
“Our research makes adjustments in the understanding of the environmental conditions in the geologic time in general,” Andrew Shpanski, the study’s lead author said in a statement. “Understanding of the past allows us to make more accurate predictions about natural processes in the near future.”
More specifically, Shpanski said, this glimpse at such a resilient animal has implications for climate change.