The Siberian Unicorn Was Killed By Climate Change

Elasmotherium sibiricum, also known as the Siberian unicorn, was a spectacular being that appears to have lived on this planet more than 39,000 years ago. Not many details were known about this extinct rhino, but a paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution provided more information about it.

The leader of the paper is Pavel Kosintsev, a paleontologist at the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He and his team were able to determine that the Siberian Unicorn lived at the same time as Neanderthals. However, it appears that they were not the cause of the rhinos’ extinctions. Instead, climate change is to blame.

“It is unlikely that the presence of humans was the cause of extinction. The Siberian unicorn appears to have been badly hit by the start of the Ice Age in Eurasia when a precipitous fall in temperature led to an increase in the amount of frozen ground, reducing the tough, dry grasses it lived on and impacting populations over a vast region.” said co-author Chris Turney, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales, in a statement.

The creature went extinct after the planet became warmer after coming out of an Ice Age. Since these rhinos fed on dry grass, they were directly affected by the grasslands which began to diminish. “Relatives such as the woolly rhino had always eaten a more balanced array of plants, and were much less impacted by a change in habitat,” explained one of the authors.

Scientists were able when the Siberian Unicorn lived by radiocarbon-dating 23 specimens of the rhinoceros. The beast lived in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Previously it was believed that the Elasmotherium sibiricum went extinct 200,000 years ago. Nowadays we only have five species of rhino alive, out of the 250 known ones.

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