You probably thought that unicorns were purely mythical creatures. It’s certainly true that there’s never been a white pony with a horn that only hung out with elves and fairies, but believe it or not, unicorns were quite real.
They were also absolutely horrifying.
The Evidence For Unicorns
If you’re still rolling your eyes at this idea, then check out the species known as Elasmotherium. It existed in Siberia and Russia and parts of Asia. The name Elasmotherium means “thin plate beast,” and while we’ve never seen one alive (because they’re all extinct) we can learn a lot from the skeletons that have been found.
There is a raised round dome in the center of the forehead which indicates that it would have had a single horn protruding from its head.
Unicorns Were Ugly
The only thing preventing our fairy tales from coming true is this: Elasmotherium appears to have been a species of rhinoceros and not a species of horse.
That means they would have been seriously ugly. They were 16 feet long, seven feet tall and not at all svelte at nearly 10,000 pounds in weight. In essence, they were pretty much identical to your modern day rhino in size.
They’ve Been In The News Recently
The evidence says that Elasmotherium shuffled off the earth about 35,000 years ago, though in 2016, researchers found a bunch of bones that are only 29,000 years old in Kazakhstan.
That means Elasmotherium might have had a few humans roaming around to play with. Given that it was herbivorous, it probably didn’t chew on those people, but it could certainly have stomped them viciously if the need had arisen.
Where Did All The Horns Go?
If you’re wondering why there are no horns to go with all these Elasmotherium bones, it’s because their horns, like rhino horns, are made out of keratin and not bone. Keratin rots quickly and thus there are no horns left 29,000 years later.
Our ugly unicorns were real, as were their horns, but we’ll never see one of those horns for ourselves.