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'Siberian Unicorn' Survived Over 300,000 More Years than Originally Thought, Study Shows

Mar 29, 2016 04:39 AM EDT
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A newly discovered fossilized skull of a so-called "Siberian unicorn" has revealed that it has survived over 300,000 more years than what the scientists originally thought.

The new study by Andrei Shpansky and colleagues at Tomsk State University in Russia was published in the American Journal of Applied Science.

According to the research, the use of radiocarbon bone dating methods has determined that "unicorn"--or more accurately, a rhinoceros with quite an impressive horn--may have been walking on Earth only 29,000 years ago, as opposed to the earlier belief that it has gone extinct about 350,000 years ago.

The appearance of the Siberian unicorn, or Elasmotherium sibiricum, is closer to a rhino than a horse, reported Mother Nature Network.

It measures up to 6.5 feet tall, nearly 15 feet long, and can weigh up to 9,000 pounds.

The Siberian unicorn got its name for its very long single horn that was thought to be up to multiple feet longer than a rhino.

Andrey Shpansky, a paleontologist, said in a statement that the discovered skull in the Pavlodar Irtysh region in northeast Kazakhstan most likely belongs to a "a very large male of very large individual age."

"The dimensions of this rhino are the biggest of those described in the literature, and the proportions are typical," said Shpansky.

The known habitat of the Siberian unicorn was the vast territory from the Don River to the east of modern Kazakhstan.

The discovery of the skull in the said region has revealed its long habitation in the southeast of the West Siberian Plain.

There is still no concrete evidence to know how the Siberian unicorn outlived its fellow long extinct species.

The researchers concluded with the possibility that the south of Western Siberia served as a refuge where the Siberian unicorn persevered the longest compared to the rest of its range.

Another possibility the researchers are looking at is that these animals could migrate and dwell for a while in the more southern areas.

Following the discovery, Shpansky and his colleagues are pushing for a mass radiocarbon study of mammalian remains that were believed to extinct more than 50 to 100 thousand years ago.

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