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W. S. Van der Merwe

‘Siberian unicorn’ may have walked with early humans

Our earliest relatives might have once walked with unicorns. But Elasmotherium sibiricum, commonly known as the Siberian unicorn, probably looked more like a hefty, furry rhino with a meter-long horn than a pure white horse. Previous estimations put E. sibiricum’s extinction at 200,000 years ago, but new specimens suggest it may have survived until about 39,000 years ago, overlapping briefly with the earliest humans in the area, Gizmodo reports. Isotope analyses from the fossils showed the rhino lived on a diet of tough, dry grasses, and likely died out as the changing ice age climate wiped out its main food source, the researchers report this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution. DNA analysis also showed E. sibiricum split off from modern rhinos on the evolutionary tree about 43 million years ago. 

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