UNICORN
A painting from the 1920s by Heinrich Harder showing what the Siberian unicorn might have looked like. (Photo: /Wikimedia Commons) Wikimedia Commons

A well-preserved skull of a 'unicorn' found in Siberia suggests that the species believed to be extinct 350,000 years ago was alive till 29,000 years ago and shared the planet with humans. The legendary species Elasmotherium sibiricum probably found its last refuge in Kazakhastan, from where the skull was discovered.

"Most likely, in the south of Western Siberia it was a ref├║gium, where this rhino had preserved the longest in comparison with the rest of its range," said Andrey Shpanski, a paleontologist at Tomsk State University who led the study. "There is another option that it could migrate and dwell for a while on the more southern areas."

The fossil implies the animal was more similar to a rhino than the horse as legends spoke. At 6.7 feet tall and 15 feet long, they are believed to have weighed around 4000 kgs. The horn was bigger than a rhino's and stretched across many feet. The specimen belonged to a male and is one of the biggest animal of its kind as described in literature.

The radiocarbon dating was of the skull was done at Queen's University, Belfast, in the U.K. The research is published in in the American Journal of Applied Science .

Shpanski called for mass radiocarbon studies of other mammalian remains known as ancient and extinct more than 50-100,000 years ago. "Our research makes adjustments in the understanding of the environmental conditions in the geologic time in general. Understanding of the past allows us to make more accurate predictions about natural processes in the near future: it also concerns climate change."

A human fossil found in western Siberia in 2008 has been dated to 45,000 years ago, confirming theories that say the human ancestors spread across Asia 50,000 years ago.