Siberian Unicorn Fossil Discovered in Kazakhstan

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Siberian Unicorn
By Heinrich Harder (1858-1935) (The Wonderful Paleo Art of Heinrich Harder) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Unicorns are real, and we’re not just talking about the one who ran amok in a Northern California town a few weeks back. The Siberian Unicorn (Elasmotherium sibiricum) is—or at least it was—a real creature, and paleontologists now believe that it could have coexisted with our ancestors.

This species dates back as far as 2.5 million years ago, and until recently, experts believed it was wiped out 350,000 years ago. But a partial skull found in Kazakhstan by researchers from Tomsk State University was dated at just 29,000 years old. That means the species may have crossed paths with early humans who may have migrated into Asia by that time, says MNN.com.

So what were these creatures that your great-great-great (and so on) grandparents may have spotted on the steppes one day, thousands of years ago? It was not equine in nature, but rather more like a rhinoceros. A big one. According to paleontologist Shaena Montanari writing for Forbes.com, specimens of Siberian Unicorns have been found that were up to 15 feet long and weighed 8,000-10,000 pounds.

But it’s the animal’s magnificent horn that makes it so unique and gives it its modern name. Based on the fossils, it appears the Siberian Unicorn’s giant horn—which could be multiple feet in length—was located higher up on the animal’s head rather than at the end of the nose as seen on modern rhinos.

Was the creature magical? We’ll never know for sure.

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Leslie Potter
Leslie Potter is a graduate of William Woods University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Science with a concentration in saddle seat riding and a minor in Journalism/Mass Communications. She is currently a writer and photographer in Lexington, KY.Potter worked as a barn manager and riding instructor and was a freelance reporter and photographer for the Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar and Saddle Horse Report before moving to Lexington to join Horse Illustrated as Web Editor from 2008 to 2019. Her current equestrian pursuits include being a grown-up lesson kid at an eventing barn and trail riding with her senior Morgan gelding, Snoopy.

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