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Palaeontology

Prehistoric 'unicorn' lived alongside humans

By T.K. Randall
March 24, 2016 · Comment icon 17 comments

The enormous creature was actually a type of rhinoceros. Image Credit: PD - Heinrich Harder
A large horned beast known as the 'Siberian unicorn' could be the origin of the modern unicorn legend.
Originally thought to have died out 350,000 years ago, Elasmotherium sibiricum would have been a sight to behold - a horned behemoth standing 6ft tall and measuring up to 15ft in length.

Now scientists have found new evidence to suggest that this unicorn-like creature may have actually survived until as recently as 26,000 years ago, meaning that it would have lived alongside modern humans for many thousands of years.

The discovery was made after fossil fragments were unearthed in Kazakhstan where an isolated population was thought to have survived long after the species had gone extinct everywhere else.
Many researchers believe that early findings of fossil Elasmotherium's may have been the origin of the mythical unicorn - a theory seemingly backed up by early palaeontologists who had heard stories from the Tatars of Siberia about a unicorn with a horn so large that it needed a sledge to move it.

Whether the legends really did originate with these remarkable beasts however remains unclear, but what is known is that these were very real creatures and that, as the global climate changed, they were driven in to smaller and smaller areas until they eventually disappeared entirely.

"Understanding of the past allows us to make more accurate predictions about natural processes in the near future," said Dr Andrei Shpanski. "It also concerns climate change."

Source: Mail Online | Comments (17)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by Podo 8 years ago
It's an interesting theory, and entirely possible, I'd think. Something that big would have been feared and respected by early humans, and could have easily passed into the oral histories of the tribal people of the age.
Comment icon #9 Posted by BeastieRunner 8 years ago
Great find and theory.
Comment icon #10 Posted by morphiouse1 8 years ago
surely with such a horn it must have been as aggressive as a rhino
Comment icon #11 Posted by Twin 8 years ago
to prove the Bible wrong, many quote: Job 39:9-12King James Version (KJV) 9 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? 10 Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? 11 Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him? 12 Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn?
Comment icon #12 Posted by jpjoe 8 years ago
If this animal tells us anything about climate change, it is that Siberia was warm enough to supply the food to feed these beasts, along with all the mammoths, sabertoothed tigers, giant sloths, and numerous other giant beasts that roamed the area. The Earth had to be much warmer then than it is, today. This has always been the consensus. But gradual glacial cycle =/= abrupt athropogenic causes.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Harte 8 years ago
If this animal tells us anything about climate change, it is that Siberia was warm enough to supply the food to feed these beasts, along with all the mammoths, sabertoothed tigers, giant sloths, and numerous other giant beasts that roamed the area. The Earth had to be much warmer then than it is, today. Mammoths and Smilodons (and several other large cats, bears, etc.) were adapted for the cold - they carried thick fur.No extinct ground sloths lived anywhere near Siberia at any time. The giant beasts you refer to weren't Siberian either, for the large part. Climate change is what killed most o... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by jpjoe 8 years ago
... The Earth had to be much warmer then than it is, today. ... It wasn't getting colder but warmer. Just so nobody gets confused about what we're comparing. https://en.wikipedia...palaeotemps.svg Elasmotherium = 2.6Ma to 26ka (late Pilocene to late Pleistocene)
Comment icon #15 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
I think it is actually very likely these animals lived right up to modern times. The picture of the Elasmotherium matches very well with the ancient deion of the Persian Unicorn, and where it supposedly held out last was right next to the area of ancient Persia.
Comment icon #16 Posted by H132 8 years ago
to prove the Bible wrong, many quote: Job 39:9-12King James Version (KJV) 9 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? 10 Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? 11 Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him? 12 Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn? As well as... Numbers 23:22 God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. Numbers 24:8 God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were t... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by TripGun 8 years ago
Wishmonster!!!!


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