An impressive fossilised skull that has been recently discovered in Kazakhstan has led paleontologists to believe that unicorns really existed and even lived alongside humans. 

Though the animal didn't look anything like how fantasy films/books portray it, the real-life unicorn did have a horn on its forehead. It appears to have been a shaggy animal which looked more like a rhino or a mammoth rather than a horse. 

The real 'Siberian Unicorn', whose scientific name is Elasmotherium sibiricum, was nearly 6.5 feet tall, 15 feet long and weighed nearly 4,100 kg. It's horn was much longer than ones sported by rhinos. 

Source: b"Artist's rendition / Source: Wikimedia Commons"

The unicorn first emerged nearly 2.5 million years ago, but is believed to have disappeared 350,000 years ago. However, researchers from Tomsk State University in Siberia, Russia, now believe that Elasmotherium Sibiricum may have been around till as recently as 29,000 years ago

 "Most likely, it was a very large male of very large individual age. The dimensions of this rhino are the biggest of those described in the literature, and the proportions are typical," said Andrey Shpanski, a paleontologist at Tomsk State University.

The researchers are still trying to find out how the unicorn survived longer than other species that became extinct hundreds of thousands of years earlier. 

 "Most likely, the south of Western Siberia was a refúgium, where this rhino persevered the longest in comparison with the rest of its range. There is another possibility that it could migrate and dwell for a while in the more southern areas," said Shpanski.

The complete study has been published in the American Journal of Applied Science

(Feature image: A still from the 1985 movie Legend)