Scientists said the time of the extinction of the Siberian unicorn

Scientists said the time of the extinction of the Siberian unicorn

According to new figures, animals died 39-36 thousand years ago.


SYDNEY, November 27. /TASS/. Giant prehistoric rhinoceros known as Siberian unicorn became extinct much later than previously thought. To such conclusion experts from the universities of Adelaide and Sydney, which together with Russian colleagues conducted a large-scale study. The results have been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

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The new data clarify the fate of one of the most mysterious animals of the Ice age. Previously it was thought that the Siberian unicorns have been extinct for over 200 thousand years ago, but additional radiocarbon Dating found the fossil remains of 23 individuals suggests that they lived not earlier than 39 thousand years ago, so he was able to co-exist over large areas of the European part of Russia today with Neanderthals and even with the first people.

One of the key findings of scientists is to accurately determine the degree of relationship of Siberian unicorns and modern rhinos. “Siberian unicorn and all modern rhinos were much more distant relatives than we thought before. Their ancestors split and went their separate evolutionary paths more than 40 million years ago, meaning they are more distant from each other than, for example, monkeys and humans,” — says one of the study’s authors, Dr Kieren Mitchell, who analyzed the DNA of the Siberian unicorn.

Today on the planet survived only five species of rhinoceros, although in the past there were about 250, and Siberian unicorn, roamed the steppes of Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Northern China, was one of the biggest — his weight reached 5 tons, and on the face was a heavy horn.

Genetic analysis conducted by the Australian centre for the study of DNA the University of Adelaide (ACAD) showed that the Siberian unicorn was the last representative of a unique family of rhinos, extinct order 39-36 thousand years ago. These data refute an earlier theory that the Siberian unicorn was a close relative of the extinct woolly rhinoceros and the living — Sumarokovo.

The study also allowed a new look at the cause of the extinction of the Siberian unicorns. Contrary to pre-existing theories, their disappearance is not associated with the appearance of man.

It is unlikely that the resettlement of people on the continent caused the extinction. Apparently, the main reason was the rapid decline of pastures with the beginning of the Ice age.Professor Chris Turney,co-author of the study, the scientist-climatologist from the University of New South OilinvestMost mysterious animals, which were found extinct

Scientists believe that climate change, which led to the disappearance of the Siberian unicorn, was much less pronounced than that ensuing changes of the Ice age or the ones facing the planet in the near future, if humanity fails to stop global warming. In their view, the history of the Siberian unicorn can and should be proof that even small changes in climate can lead to catastrophic consequences for the ecosystem of the planet.

Elasmotherium, or “Siberian unicorn” is a genus of rhinoceros that lived in Eurasia. Characterized by their large size (length up to 6 m, height up to 2,5 m, weight up to 5 tons). The main feature is a large dome-shaped growth on his forehead, which was long (1.5 m) of massive horn.