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Reuters//Mike Blake
Such a beautiful creature.

Humans once shared the planet with (ugly) unicorns

Corinne Purtill
By Corinne Purtill


The closest living creature to the mythical unicorn was the Elasmotherium sibiricum, a rhinoceros-like horned creature believed to have died out 350,000 years ago. Researchers at Russia’s Tomsk State University have determined that a skull recently found in Kazakhstan is roughly 29,000 years old. Our 100,000-year-old species did, in fact, once share the planet with unicorns.

Elasmotherium sibiricum

Real unicorns bore little resemblance to the ethereal, graceful creatures that have adorned seals, tapestries, and little girls’ stickers since 2,500 B.C. The Siberian elasmotherium stood about 6 feet, 6 inches high, weighed 8,000 lbs., and was covered in shaggy fur.

Without a few aesthetic liberties, the UK probably would have gone with a different animal on the royal seal.

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