New investigation illuminated the source and extermination a gigantic rhinoceros i hairy of the Ice Age known as the Siberian Unicorn.
International team of researchers from Adelaide, Sydney, London, Netherlands i Russia, they resolved a long debate about the relationship between the Siberian unicorn and the living rhino and revealing that it survived much later than it had previously believed, to the point of overlapping with modern humans.
Published in the magazine Ecology of Nature and Evolution and directs him Natural History Museum from London, researchers say that the Siberian unicorn is extinct 36,000 years. This is more likely because of the decline in pasturelands in which he lived, due to climate change, and not the impact of humans.
Today, there are only five species of surviving rhinoceroses, although it has been in the past 250 species.
With a weight of up to 3.5 tons with one huge horn, Siberian single-bornElasmotherium sibiricum), which crossed the steppes of Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and northern China, was undoubtedly one of the most impressive.
However, genetic analyzes performed in Australian Center for Ancient DNA (ACAD) University of Adelaide showed that the Siberian unicorn was the last surviving member of a unique family of rhinos.
"The corners of the Siberian unicorn are separated from the ancestors of all living rhinos more than 40 million years ago," says the co-author and researcher ACAD, the Dr. Kieren Mitchell, who analyzed the DNA of the Siberian unicorn. This is the first time that DNA recovered from E. sibiricum.
"This means that Siberian single-born and African white rhinoceroses are farther away from humans to monkeys."
The new genetic evidence nullifies previous studies suggesting that the Siberian unicorn is a close relative of extinct woolen rhinos and live rhinos Sumatra.
It has long been assumed that the Siberian unicorn has died long before the last Ice Age, maybe even to 200,000 years.
In this study, 23 samples of Siberian bones of the unicorn were given, confirming that the species survived to a minimum 39,000 years, and perhaps 35,000 years ago. The last days of the Siberian unicorn were shared with the first Modern people and Neanderthals.
"It is unlikely that the presence of humans is the cause of extinction," says co-author Professor Chris Turney, a climate scientist at the University of California. University of New South Wales.
"It appears that the Siberian unicorn was seriously affected at the beginning of the Ice Age Eurasia when precise fall temperature have caused an increase in the amount of frozen soil, reducing hard and dry grass and affecting the population throughout the large region, "he explained.
Other species that shared the Siberian unicorn environment were less dependent on the grass, such as the woolen rhinoceros or more flexible in their diet, such as sage antilopes, and escaped from the fate of the Siberian unicorn, although the woolen rhinoceros was extinct 20,000 years later.