The 3.5-Ton Monster With an Enormous Single Horn Lived About 43 Million Years Ago

Margie Jones
31/08/2023

Ancient humans lived alongside giant 3.5 tonne woolly rhinos known as ‘Siberian Unicorns’.

The beast had an enormous single horn adorning its large head and scientists now believe the species lived alongside Homo sapiens and Neanderthals.

Expert analysis has found the rhino survived until around 39,000 years ago – far exceeding the previous estimates of extinction which varied between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago.

The large herbivore is thought to have gone extinct as a result of sudden climate change which decimated their small populations.

Elasmotherium sibiricum fossils were re-analysed using cutting-edge radiocarbon dating techniques to get a better idea of when the animals lived. The Siberian unicorn (artist's impression pictured) lived around 39,000 years ago - far exceeding previous estimates
Elasmotherium sibiricum fossils were re-analysed using cutting-edge radiocarbon dating techniques to get a better idea of when the animals lived. The Siberian unicorn (artist’s impression pictured) lived around 39,000 years ago – far exceeding previous estimates

Known scientifically as the Elasmotherium sibiricum, fossils were re-analysed using cutting-edge radiocarbon dating techniques to get a better idea of when the animals lived.

It was previously thought the species was wiped out prior to the mᴀss extinction event which accounted for the demise of the woolly mammoth, Irish elk and sabre-toothed cat.

Professor Adrian Lister from the Natural History Museum who led the study, said: ‘This megafaunal extinction event didn’t really get going until about 40,000 years ago.

‘So Elasmotherium with its apparent extinction date of 100,000 years ago or more has not been considered as part of that same event.

‘We dated a few specimens – such as the beautiful complete skull we have at the Museum – and to our surprise they came in at less than 40,000 years old.’

Prior to the demise of the beast it shared the planet with humans and neanderthals, the study revealed.

Experts believe that despite the overlapping time frames and human penchant for hunting large animals, the presence of humans was not the cause of extinction.

Further studies looked at isotope ratios in the teeth of the Siberian unicorn and this revealed the animal survived on a diet of tough, dry grᴀsses.

It was previously thought the animal was wiped out before the mᴀss extinction event which accounted for the demise of the woolly mammoth, Irish elk and sabre-toothed 

It was previously thought the animal was wiped out before the mᴀss extinction event which accounted for the demise of the woolly mammoth, Irish elk and sabre-toothed cat. The large herbivore is thought to have gone extinct as a result of sudden climate change (stock)

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