Good news: Unicorns are real and lived pretty recently. Bad news: They’re kind of ugly

It turns out My Little Pony and everything we want to believe about unicorns is wrong.

Unicorns aren’t these majestic, mythical horses with spiral horns bestowed with magical powers. But they are real. And they are also incredibly homely.

According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Applied Sciences, the Siberian unicorn last walked the Earth 29,000 years ago.

Scientists previously believed Elasmotherium sibiricum died out about 350,000 years ago, but a fossilized skull found in near pristine condition in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan has now turned that theory on its head. Now, the experts are going to try to figure out how the species survived for as long as it did.

And, the rest of us will try to get over having our childhood fantasies crushed.

The Siberian unicorn looked more like a rhino than a horse. It was, in fact, huge. Descriptions by scientists in the 1800s, pegged the creature at roughly 2 metres tall, 4.5 metres long, and weighing in at about 4 tonnes.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

“That’s closer to woolly mammoth-sized than horse-sized,” notes Science Alert.


Report co-author Andrei Shpanski, a palaeontologist at Tomsk State University said in a statement, that the skull belonged to very large, older male and among the largest of that described in previous literature.

His team also hopes to learn something about the animal’s extinction.

“Our research makes adjustments in the understanding of the environmental conditions in the geologic time in general. Understanding of the past allows us to make more accurate predictions about natural processes in the near future: it also concerns climate change,” he said.

 Andrey Shpanski, a paleontologist at Tomsk State University.

Andrei Shpanski, a paleontologist at Tomsk State University with a piece of fossilize skull.

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