Climate change caused the extinction of Siberian unicorn that roamed across Eurasia

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

Researchers have found that a massive rhinoceros nicknamed 'Siberian unicorn' lived much longer than previously believed and have roamed across Eurasia with humans. As per the experts, many mammals were pulled to the verge of extinction due to climate change and loss of vegetation when the earth warmed up and started to emerge from the ice age.

Earlier, it was believed that these gigantic creatures 'Elasmotherium sibericum' went extinct between 2,00,000 and 1,00,000-years-ago.

But as per a new study report published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, radiocarbon dating, conducted on 23 specimens of these rhinoceros, has suggested that these giants survived in Eastern Europe and Central Asia until at least 39,000-years-ago. The study also suggested that these animals went extinct due to their picky eating habits.

"Any change in their environment is a danger for them. And, of course, what we've also learned from the fossil record is that once a species is gone, that's it, it's gone for good," Professor Adrian Lister, a researcher at the Natural History Museum, London and the lead author of the study told BBC.

Scientists made conclusions about the extinction of these giants after analyzing their teeth. The research confirmed that Siberian unicorns usually grazed on tough and dry grasses. The specialized diet followed by these animals resulted in their downfall, especially when grasslands started to shrink before 40,000 years.

Only five species of rhinos are remaining on earth even in this modern age where strict measures are being taken to protect endangered animals. Out of these five species, three are already listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Poaching and loss of habitat are apparently affecting the population of remaining rhinos in the earth and many environmentalists believe that these species will also get erased from the planet in the following years if authorities fail to increase their population.