Unicorns Lived Among Humans, Died Due To Climate Change: Australian Researchers

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Living Among Us, Unicorns Perished Because of Climate Change, Say Australian Researchers

According to recent studies conducted by Australian experts, “unicorns” coexisted with humans and were driven extinct only by climate change.

It was once believed that the enormous, shaggy Ice Age rhinoceros (Elasmotherium sibiricum), also referred to as the Siberian unicorn because to its remarkably huge single horn, went extinct 200,000 years ago.

An multinational team of researchers from Adelaide, Sydney, London, the Netherlands, and Russia has refuted that idea.

According to a study report that was released early on Tuesday in the scholarly journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the Siberian unicorn went extinct about 36,000 years ago.

The study concluded that, rather than human impact, the most likely reason for the species’ extinction was a decrease in grassland brought on by climate change.

The Siberian unicorn, with its massive horn and weight of up to 3.5 tonnes, was a beast that formerly roamed the steppes of Northern China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Russia.

Upon conducting the first-ever DNA analysis of the Siberian unicorn, the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) at the University of Adelaide discovered that the enormous creature was the sole survivor of a rare species of rhinoceros.

Dr. Kieren Mitchell, an ACAD researcher and co-author, stated that “the ancestors of the Siberian unicorn split from the ancestors of all living rhinos over 40 million years ago.”

“Therefore, compared to humans, Siberian unicorns and African white rhinos are even more distant cousins.”

Previous research suggesting the Siberian unicorn was a close descendant of the extinct woolly rhino and the extant Sumatran rhino is refuted by this new genetic findings.

Additionally, 23 Siberian unicorn bone remains were dated by researchers, indicating that the species continued to exist until at least 39,000 years ago and perhaps as late as 35,000 years ago. Neanderthals and early modern people shared the last days of the Siberian unicorn.

The University of New South Wales’ Professor Chris Turney, a climate scientist, stated that “it is unlikely that the presence of humans was the cause of extinction.”

“The Siberian unicorn seems to have suffered greatly at the beginning of the ice age in Eurasia, when a sharp drop in temperature resulted in more frozen ground, decreasing the hard, dry grasses it fed on and having an effect on populations over a wide area.”

While the woolly rhino finally went extinct 20,000 years later, other animals that occupied the same habitat as the Siberian unicorn were either less dependent on grass, like the woolly rhino, or more adaptable in their diet, like the saiga antelope, and they managed to escape the Siberian unicorn’s destiny.

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