This natural scarcity, the Museum said, coupled with dramatic fluctuations in climate, may have been one of the factors that pushed it into extinction-around the same time Neanderthals died out.
Now there are only five surviving species of rhino on Earth - a small portion of the 250 species that have existed in the Rhinocerotoidea family.
They were previously thought to have gone extinct between 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.
For the study, an global team of researchers from the UK, Netherlands, and Russian Federation took a closer look at 23 Elasmotherium specimens, including a pristine skull kept at the Natural History Museum.
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"The ancestors of the Siberian unicorn split from the ancestors of all living rhinos over 40 million years ago", Kieren Mitchell, who analysed the DNA of the Siberian unicorn, said. Adult unicorns weighed upwards of 3.5 tons. Odd animals lived much longer, they lived for the next 36 000 years ago.
"We dated a few specimens - such as the handsome complete skull we have at the Museum - and to our surprise they came in at less than 40,000 years old", Study lead Prof. The late Dating, which was established in the course of the study is 35-36 thousand years ago.
But the ancient tribes, most likely, had no relationship to the extinction of unicorns.
In addition to receiving and analyzing Elasmotherium sibiricum DNA for the first time, scientists dated the bones of 23 different Siberian unicorn specimens.
"Elasmotherium sibericum's final days were shared with early modern humans and Neanderthals", the researchers said. In 2016, for example, an E. sibiricum skull found in Kazakhstan was radiocarbon dated to 29,000 years ago. But while rhinos were on the hominid menu, this new research suggests climate change, and not hunters, was responsible for Elasmotherium's demise.
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Good to know what we have to look forward to! These climactic disruptions proved fatal to many species, Elasmotherium among them.
Also, it seems that this "Siberian Unicorn" put the basis of the famous unicorn myth which has been around for millennia. The researchers sought to link various plants with the levels of carbon and nitrogen isotopes in their teeth.
According to Lister, the Siberian unicorn's anatomy-particularly its "unusual teeth"- suggests it lived in open plains, grazing nearly entirely on tough, dry grasses.
There were once as many as 250 rhino species.
Lister ruled out the possibility that the megaherbivores were hunted into extinction by modern humans. Sadly, the same can not be said for the ongoing sixth mass extinction, which is most certainly our fault.
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