It turns out that the unicorn isn’t just a myth after all.
But it didn’t look exactly like what we all have come to envision a unicorn looking like.
According to a study printed in the “American Journal of Applied Sciences,” the Siberian unicorn, whose scientific name is Elasmotherium sibiricum, last walked the Earth about 29,000 years ago.
Scientists previously thought this creature died out about 350,000 years ago, but a newly discovered fossilized skull reveals it lived here much more recently.
The skull was found in the northeast region of the country of Kazakhstan, which is just below (south of) Russia, northwest of China, and north of Afghanistan.
Before you get too excited, though, here’s the catch: The Siberian unicorn really looked like more of a mix between a rhinoceros and a horse than a horse. It reportedly stood about 6 feet 6 inches tall, measured around 15 feet long, and weighed about 8,000 pounds. That’s closer to woolly mammoth-sized than horse-sized.
The unicorn is a legendary creature that most people think of as a white horse, with a slender, spiral horn, called an alicorn, growing out of its forehead.
Magical powers have always been associated with the unicorn. From its amazing strength (Jewish legend says they can kill an elephant!) to its ability to tell truth from lies, (Confronted by a liar, a unicorn will pierce a liar through the heart!) the unicorn occupies a special place in human history and culture, similar to that of dragons. They are depicted in our art and architecture and are frequently mentioned in songs, poetry, histories and stories.
The earliest record of unicorns in literature goes back 2,500 years to the ancient Greeks.
In his travels, Marco Polo believed he stumbled across unicorns. He wrote, “They are very ugly brutes to look at. They are not at all such as we describe unicorns.” That’s because what he saw then were actually rhinoceroses.
Who knows, maybe the unicorns of our magical stories did exist as well. Until we find proof of them, however, we’ll have to be satisfied with the Siberian variety.