- A massive hairy rhinoceros known as "Siberian unicorn" lived much longer than expected.
- A new study found that the animal survived long enough to walk the earth with humans.
- Researchers say that climate change wipes out the species.
A massive hairy rhino with the name "Siberian unicorn" lived much longer than previously thought and went Earth with people, a new study claims.
By radio carbon dating 23 rhino specimens, researchers could find the four-ton beast – not exactly what you see when thinking about a unicorn – survived in Eastern Europe and Central Asia until 39,000 years ago, about the same time as early modern humans and neanderthals, according to recent research in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.
Previously, researchers believed that the rhino, scientifically known as Elasmotherium Sibericum, was extinct about 200,000 years ago.
(MORE: The report reveals disturbing opportunities in San Francisco's high rises)
Another important result was that the extinction of Siberian unicorn was not caused by human hunting or the last ice age, which began about 25,000 years ago. Instead, a subtle climate change was its passing.
When the earth began to warm and come out of the ice age dating back to about 40,000 years ago, grasslands began to decline in size and rhino, which only digs on tough dry grass, was likely to be extinguished.
"Relatives like the eardrum had always eaten a more balanced range of plants, and were much less affected by a change in habitats," wrote the author of the study.
Today, only five of the 250 known species of rhino remain, Of which three are listed as critically threatened by the International Union for Nature Conservation. Very few rhinos live outside national parks and reserves because of poaching and loss of habitat.
Researchers believe that studying the extinction of Siberian unicorn can help them to save the rhinos as the outside will be eradicated because of their stubbornness when choosing a habitat.
"Any change in their environment is a danger to them, "Adrian Lister, who led the study, told BBC News." And what we naturally learned from the fossil record is that it's once a kind gone, that's it, it's gone well. "