Unicorns Were Real? Siberian Unicorn Rhinos Were And Probably Inspired The Mythical Creature

So, it looks like Unicorns are/were real after all, who'd have guessed it. Time for all those non-believers to wipe that smug expression off their faces as the pointy-headed mythical animal worshipers dance around and point their fingers and chant, "told you so." Well, that's 'almost' true i guess.

A recently discovered fossilized skull in Kazakhstan is causing scientists to rethink when the Siberian unicorn, Elasmotherium sibiricum, an animal that is more rhinoceros than horse, died out.

Initially it was suspected the mammal died out around 350,000 years ago but the well-preserved skull has caused scientists to completely reassess that figure.

Because it turns out these stunning creatures were alive about 29,000 years ago according to a new study in the American Journal of Applied Sciences, which means these megafauna survived a helluva lot later than previously thought. Meaning that it was wandering about when Paleolithic man was around.

The skull, which likely belonged to a male of about six or seven feet tall and weighing almost 8,000 pounds, was in such good condition paleontologist Andrey Shpanski of Tomsk State University in Russia, could estimate where it lived and why it survived way beyond when they thought the species had died out.

"Most likely, the south of Western Siberia was a refuge, where this rhino persevered the longest in comparison with the rest of its range." Shpanksi said. "There is another possibility that it could migrate and dwell for a while in the more southern areas. Most likely, it was a very large male of very large individual age. The dimensions of this rhino are the biggest of those described in the literature, and the proportions are typical."

1920s painting by Heinrich Harder imagining what the Siberian unicorn looked like. Photo: /Wikimedia Commons

Although this rhino, while majestic, doesn't match the more elegant image we have of the unicorn these days, it may have inspired the legendary creature as modern humans (Homo sapiens) would've been around at the same time as it.

The study also has wider implications, as Shpanski and his team hope to learn about how an animal's environment contributes to its extinction. "Our research makes adjustments in the understanding of the environmental conditions in the geologic time in general. Understanding of the past allows us to make more accurate predictions about natural processes in the near future—it also concerns climate change," said Shpanski.

No word yet on whether it pukes rainbows though.

First published restoration of Elasmotherium sibiricum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Siberian unicorn reconstructed skull and horn. Photo: Ghedoghedo/Wikipedia

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