CLOSE

A 'Siberian Unicorn' Roamed the Earth Until 29,000 Years Ago, Scientists Say

Thousands of years ago, a real-life unicorn roamed the Earth, and as scientists have just discovered, it lived hundreds of thousands of years more recently than we thought. 

Elasmotherium sibiricum was a “Siberian unicorn” that looked more like a hairy rhinoceros than a fantastical equine dream. Its horn was long and huge in contrast to the rhinos of today, and it stood more than 6 feet tall and 14 feet long (making it as big as a mammoth). Much like their contemporary counterparts, the beasts likely feasted on mostly grass.

Researchers from Tomsk State University recently discovered a well-preserved skull of Elasmotherium sibiricum in the Pavlodar region of northeastern Kazakhstan. Using radiocarbon dating techniques, they dated the specimen to around 29,000 years ago—a notable departure from previous evidence suggesting that the species died out around 350,000 years ago. The study was published recently in the American Journal of Applied Science.

The giant rhinoceros featured in the study was likely an older male, and its cause of death is unknown. In a press statement, paleontologist Andrey Shpanski says that the ancient animal may have found refuge in the region, which is located in southwest Siberia, allowing it to survive longer than other rhinos.

The team now plans to date other mammals believed to have gone extinct between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. They hope that by better understanding the environmental conditions that may have led to extinction in the past, they might be able to make more accurate predictions about the future. 

[h/t Science Alert]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
iStock
iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
If You Want Your Cat to Poop Out More Hairballs, Try Feeding It Beets
iStock
iStock

Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get your cat to poop out its hairballs instead of hacking them up? If so, you’re likely a seasoned cat owner whose tolerance for gross stuff has reached the point of no return. Luckily, there may be an easy way to get your cat to dispose of hairballs in the litter box instead of on your carpet, according to one study.

The paper, published in the Journal of Physiology and Animal Nutrition, followed the diets of 18 mixed-breed short-haired cats over a month. Some cats were fed straight kibble, while others were given helpings of beet pulp along with their regular meals. The researchers suspected that beets, a good source of fiber, would help move any ingested hair through the cats’ digestive systems, thus preventing it from coming back up the way it went in. Following the experiment, they found that the cats with the beet diet did indeed poop more.

The scientists didn’t measure how many hairballs the cats were coughing up during this period, so it's possible that pooping out more of them didn’t stop cats from puking them up at the same rate. But considering hairballs are a matter of digestive health, more regular bowel movements likely reduced the chance that cats would barf them up. The cat body is equipped to process large amounts of hair: According to experts, healthy cats should only be hacking hairballs once or twice a year.

If you find them around your home more frequently than that, it's a good idea to up your cat's fiber intake. Raw beet pulp is just one way to introduce fiber into your pet's diet; certain supplements for cats work just as well and actually contain beet pulp as a fiber source. Stephanie Liff, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York, recommends psyllium powder to her patients. Another option for dealing with hairballs is the vegetable-oil based digestive lubricant Laxatone: According to Dr. Liff, this can "help to move hairballs in the correct direction."

[h/t Discover]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios