Dreams do come true – sort of. According to a study published in the American Journal of Applied Sciences, the Siberian unicorn – Elasmotherium sibiricum – last walked the Earth about 29,000 years ago.
Scientists previously thought the creature with the partially mythical name 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 Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan, and scientists hope it will help shed light on how some members of the species apparently were able to survive as long as they did.
Before you get too excited about the pretty little pony with the horn coming out of its head, the Siberian unicorn apparently looked something like this:
The discovery of a fossilized skull in Kazakhstan is making paleontologists rewrite the timeline of the Siberian unicorn, Elasmotherium sibiricum. This impressive animal was a real-life unicorn, though it didn’t match the image most of us have for the fairytale creature.
Closer to a rhino than a horse in appearance, it was similar in stature to the mammoth. Measuring up to 6.5 feet tall and almost 15 feet long, it weighed up to 9,000 pounds. Its most recognizable feature was its single horn, which is thought to have been much longer than a rhino’s, up to multiple feet long. Its habitat was the vast territory from the Don River in Russia to east of modern Kazakhstan.
The Siberian unicorn, which first emerged in the fossil record around 2.5 million years ago, was thought to have disappeared 350,000 years ago. But the discovery made by researchers from Tomsk State University in Siberia, Russia, seems to show that E. sibiricum might have stuck around much longer. In fact, the beast and humans might have met, since our ancestors began spreading across Asia more than 50,000 years ago and likely went to Siberia around 35,000 years ago.
But never fear! In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, they’ve found a gen-u-whine unicorn lair:
It looks like North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has his father’s sense of humor: The state-owned Korean Central News Agency reported Thursday that archaeologists in the country had found a “unicorn lair” in Pyongyang.
According to the tough-to-believe report, the Academy of Social Sciences “reconfirmed a lair of the unicorn rode by King Tongmyong, founder of the Koguryo Kingdom,” who ruled the area between 37 and 19 B.C.
The news is just the latest in a series of myths trumpeted by North Korean news sources: They had previously reported that Kim Jong Il was born beneath a double rainbow and that a new star appeared when he was born, that Jong Il learned to walk at three weeks old, and shot a round of golf that included 11 holes-in-one.
According to the news report, the discovery of the unicorn lair “proves that Pyongyang was a capital city of Ancient Korea,” and that the unicorn is very important in North Korean history books.
Keep the Dream alive!