The ‘Siberian Unicorn’ Roamed The Earth With Humans, Scientists Say

Close up of a modern rhinoceros
Francsco Ungaro / Pexels

Scientists now know that the giant rhino was actually walking the Earth for much longer than they previously believed. The giant rhino is also known as the Siberian unicorn and may be the origin of the myth of unicorns.

The Siberian rhino foraged throughout the grasslands of Eurasia and was living on Earth until at least 39,000 years ago. The new evidence of this animal’s life is a game-changer. Scientists previously thought the Siberian rhino went extinct long before this, according to the BBC.

Finding out why this particular rhino species went extinct may be the key to helping today’s rhinos and preventing their extinction, say scientists.

A new study conducted by the Natural History Museum in London has shed new light on the Siberian unicorn, and on other rhino species as a result.

Rhinos are a high risk for extinction because they are such picky eaters, and so particular about where they live.

“Any change in their environment is a danger for them,” explains Prof. Adrian Lister of the National History Museum.

“And, of course, what we’ve also learned from the fossil record is that once a species is gone, that’s it, it’s gone for good.”

The giant rhino, or Siberian unicorn, weighed four tons and had a single, massive horn on its head. And for many years, it shared the planet with human beings.

Previously, the giant rhino was believed to have died off 200,000 to 100,000 years ago. New research shows that the giant rhino was around for much longer than this. Researchers were able to isolate the Siberian unicorn’s DNA for the first time to come up with more accurate data.

The giant rhino fed on tough, dry grass. As the Earth warmed at the end of the Ice Age, the rhino’s habitat disappeared. With it went the rhino.

Today, there are five remaining species of rhino. Mostly, they live within national parks and animal reserve areas. There are very few of them remaining in the wild due to loss of habitat and frequent poaching by hunters.

Legends of the unicorn have been around for thousands of years. And thousands of years ago, the giant rhino may have been the creature that inspired them. The unicorn is the national animal of Scotland.

When the giant rhino roamed the Earth 39,000 years ago, early humans and Neanderthals were living in the same area, according to CNN. So for just a little while, humans and unicorns did walk the Earth together.