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Different types of Unicorns.

When we think about unicorns, we usually imagine an animal similar to a horse or a goat with a horn protruding out from its forehead, frolicking with a treacherous virgin, who tricks the animal and then hands it over to the hunter.

But unicorns of different types can be found all over  the world in different cultures, as all kinds of animals are found to be adorned with a single horn, not only horses or goats. Here are some examples - 

 

Depicted on a steatite seal found in Mohendjo-Daro is an ox with a fantastically shaped singular horn.

 

 

In the old Arabian writings one often comes across the karkkadana – and antelope with all the attributes of a unicorn.

 

 

A cheerful yellow rabbit with a black horn, known as Al-mi’raj, often appears in Muslim poetry.

 

 

Whereas Olaus Magnus, who wrote about anything that was interesting in Scandinavia, found an uni-horned fish, it was not a narwhal, but a creature with a distinct horn rising out of its head. This is illustrated in a book published in Rome in 1555, entitled "Historia de gentibus septentroinalibus" (bottom right on the illustration).

Despite thousands pieces of evidence for the existence of unicorns from travelers tales, from art, sculpture, folklore, poetry, religions, academics have struggled for hundreds of years to scientifically prove the existence of the creature. One of the more interesting attempts at this was carried out by Otto von Guericke (1602 – 1686), who was fascinated with paleontology. He collected various bones from excavations and put them together to form a curious animal with a single horn. It later turned out that the bones used to construct this skeleton  had absolutely nothing to do with each other. But his reconstructive approach to paleontology gave a stimulus for further research.

And in this lies the answer to the question whether unicorns do in fact exist, or if they are just a fiction. The answer is simple – unicorns, not only horses, have existed for ages, they exist now and will continue to exist. Only the form of their existence is questionable, however from a cultural point of view it is not important whether or not we can find the DNA of the unicorn. It is only relevant that there are thousands of pieces of evidence of their existence in a non-DNA form.

The unicorn on the top comes from Konrad Gesner's "Historia animalium", 1551

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© (selected from publications of 
 R. Antoszewski

Titirangi, Auckland, 
New Zeland

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