Unicorns did roam the earth (but they weren't horses)

Technically Incorrect: A new study from Russia and Kazakhstan suggests that a mere 29,000 years ago the one-horned animals lived on Earth -- sort of.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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Not exactly magical. Looks a little grumpy, in fact.

Wikimedia Commons/public domain

They were magical creatures that roamed the Earth and made those who saw them believe in the impossible.

Well, almost.

It seems more likely, in fact, that they were rhinos.

Paleontologists from Russian and Kazakhstan have just published new research that suggests rhinocorns might have roamed the earth in times gone by. We may have just missed them.

Elasmotherium sibiricum is the technical name for the so-called Siberian unicorn. It was thought to have become extinct some 350,000 years ago.

However, when these scientists examined well-preserved skull fossils found in western Siberia, they concluded that they were only 29,000 years old.

Now, depending on your view of how the world came about, this might mean that humans and rhinocorns could have witnessed each other.

There's no evidence -- at least from this research -- that the rhinocorns had magical powers. They were, however, imposing. They weighed around 4 tons and were 15 feet long and more than 6 feet tall. The frontal horn is said to have been much, much longer than that of a rhino.

But why might they have survived so long in western Siberia?

"Most likely, the south of western Siberia was a [refuge]," lead researcher Andrei Shpansky told CNN, "where this rhino had preserved the longest in comparison with the rest of the range."

While science has stepped forward slowly in an attempt to be precise about animals that roamed in the past, humanity has forged ahead with its dreamy notions.

No one can agree how the unicorns of fable came into being as horse-like, goat-like creatures. Neither can anyone be sure how they became a symbol of purity, as well as magic.

The ancient Greeks thought unicorns lived in India. Even Leonardo da Vinci seemed enraptured by them.

He wrote of their deep and submissive relationship with maidens: "The unicorn...because of its intemperance, not knowing how to control itself before the delight it feels towards maidens, forgets its ferocity and wildness, and casting aside all fear it will go up to the seated maiden and sleep in her lap, and thus the hunter takes it."

Somehow, that wouldn't have sounded quite so romantic if he'd been talking about a rhino, would it?

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