People have seen real unicorns. It is the conclusion of Britain's National History Museum in London, which decided that Elasmotherium Siberian, a species known as the "Siberian unicorn", existed with humans. The catch? Forget all hopes of a unicorn. Instead of an elegant horse, think of a hairy rhinoceros with an extraordinary horn.
NHM's study showed that Elasmotherium survived for much longer than what scientists had previously believed. There was generally agreement that the magnificent animal weighing up to 3.5 tonnes (7 716 pounds) was killed 200 000 to 100 000 years ago. However, new radiocarbon dating shows that Elasmotherium consisted of much more cheerful things, enabling survival. Researchers now believe that the species survived at least 39,000 years ago, possibly as late as 35,000 years ago.
In a certain way, this places Elasmotherium conveniently within history. The new lifespan shows that it existed beside what is called Pleistocene megafauna, giant animals that arose after the dinosaurs. These included wooly mammals, Saber-tigers and a wide variety of magnificent creatures that stretched the planet together with humans until a major extinction event likely to be related to natural climate change occurred.
"This megafaunal extinction event did not really start about 40,000 years ago," Adrian Lister, Merit Researcher at NHM, said in a press release. "So Elasmotherium with its apparent extinction date of 100,000 years ago or more has not been considered as part of the same event. "
"We dated some copies – for example, the beautiful, complete skull we have at the museum – and to our surprise they came in less than 40,000 years old", which means that the species shared their last days with early human hunters.
Further studies showed that the unicorn corner shared some similarities with its modern relatives. examines Elasmotherium s teeth scientists could compare the carbon and nitrogen isotopes found with a variety of plant species. To find a match, they could confirm that the Siberian animal was crying on tough dry grass–just like rhinoceros.
In a rarity, researchers say that the appearance of humans is unlikely to lead to the rhino's ripening. Instead, rhino's specialty diet mixed with climate change was a more likely source.
While rhinoceros are rare creatures today, this was not always the case. During the natural history there have been as many as 250 species of rhinoceros. These days, animal eradication occurs at such a pace as nature can not cope with, which leads to a biodiversity crisis.