As with Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, most people hit an age when they learn that unicorns aren't real.
But according to a fossil discovery made in Kazakhstan, a unicorn-like creature may have walked the earth with humans after all. Previously, it was commonly accepted that what is known as a Siberian unicorn died off 350,000 years ago, about 150,000 years before modern humans evolved. But this most recent discovery suggests that a creature resembling a unicorn was still roaming the earth some 29,000 years ago.
Here is a drawing of what it may have looked like:
While the Siberian unicorn is closely related to the rhinoceros, the distinguishing difference is its horn, which fossil records indicate is several feet long, bigger than what we see in modern day rhinos. It's estimated to have been six and half feet tall, 15 feet long, and weighed a colossal four tons.
The mythology of unicorns began more than 2,000 years ago in ancient Greece, according to the American Museum of Natural History. Even scholars translating the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek discovered allusions to the unicorn, most commonly using the Hebrew word re'em. While today's adaption usually depicts them as a white horse with a pearly horn, others have described the creature as as having a goat-like body an a colored horn.
This fossil discovery does not mean there were magical one-horned creatures roaming the earth alongside humans. But it may give us a hint into where the legends began.
Here is a similar fossil on display inside a London museum.
Cover photo: Heinrich Harder via Wikimedia Commons