New research has shed light on the origin and extinction of a giant, shaggy Ice Age rhinoceros known as the Siberian unicorn because of its extraordinary single horn. An international team of researchers from Adelaide, Sydney, London, the Netherlands, and Russia, have settled a long-standing debate about the relationship of the Siberian unicorn to living rhinos, and revealed that it survived much later than previously believed, overlapping in time with modern humans. Published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution and led by London’s Natural History Museum, the researchers say the Siberian unicorn became extinct around 36,000 years ago. This was most likely because of reduction in steppe grassland where it lived – due to climate change rather than the impact of humans. Today there are just five surviving species of rhino, although in the past there have been as many as 250 species.

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