The Unicorn Thread

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Anonymous

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Think this is the explanation behind the unicorn?
Ive heard a theory that it was based on the Rhino, but this seems plausable.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/features/29_08_02_a.htm

Unicorns _ in myth and fairy tales _ lived in enchanted forests, frolicking under giant trees. Although no such shining white creature ever inhabited the forests of ancient Europe, the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula were once populated by white antelopes that looked an awful lot like the unicorn.
The horns of the oryx antelope are so symmetrical that only one can be seen from the profile, one of the many inspirations of the unicorn myth.
Some tales of the unicorn tell that it was hunted to extinction. So was the oryx, almost. The last wild oryx was killed in 1972 in Oman. Only a few survived in zoos. Now, after decades of captive breeding, some oryx are free again. This year 10 of them were released into their native environment in Jordan’s Wadi Rum National Reserve.
Operation Oryx started in 1961. The World Wildlife Fund and the Flora and Fauna Preservation Society of London launched a rescue operation when only about 100 were still alive in the wild.
A world oryx herd was established at the Phoenix Zoo in Arizona, USA, with three animals from Oman, one from the London Zoo, one from Kuwait, and four from Saudi Arabia. These nine bred well _ by 1984 there were more than 200.
As the herd grew in number, Arab countries proposed that the antelope should be reintroduced into its native environment in the Arabian deserts. As early as 1978, 11 oryxes came to Jordan’s Shumari Wildlife Reserve. Now 63 oryxes live on this grassland 110 kilometers east of Amman. Visitors can watch them from an observation tower.
However, this area is not where the antelope originally lived. Therefore the Royal Society for the Conversation of Nature in Jordan moved 10 oryxes to the desert of Wadi Rum last April. With ancient pictures of the antelope carved into the sandstone walls of its massive gorges, it seems certain that the nature reserve south of Petra was once populated by oryx.
The animals currently live in a fenced area of 3 square kilometers.
“But no one interferes in their lives. The rangers only supply them with water and sometimes with alfalfa,” says Nashat Hamidan, an ecologist at the Royal Society for the Conversation of Nature (RSNC).
The RSNC plans to set the oryx completely free when certain that they are managing well in the enclosure. Currently they are exposed to most of the same risks as in the wild _ with wolves and hyenas roaming hungrily nearby. However, a calf named Ruba was born in May and is still doing well, Hamidan maintains.
But more risks may be awaiting the endangered species. In Oman 10 oryxes were reintroduced in the central desert in 1982. Up to 100 oryxes from enclosures joined them during the 80s. In 1996 their number had grown to 400 _ but in 1999 only 100 were left. Poachers began hunting the creatures as their number grew.
While in the past the oryx was hunted for its horns, hide and meat, now poachers have been capturing them for private zoos. Even more alarming, however, was that only 11 of the 100 left were females.
The poachers can catch them more easily, but they also die more frequently from stress or exhaustion when hunted.
When not being hunted, the oryx is a tough animal. It can live 22 days without water, and it is also said that the antelope can smell water over a distance of 150 kilometers.
However, whether the oryx really inspired the myth of the unicorn is impossible to tell.
The myth of the one-horned creature is wide-spread. The first known mention is from 2400 BC by the Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi. The unicorn he wrote about, however, had fish scales that shimmered in the colors of the rainbow.
In the Old Testament the unicorn is mentioned nine times. Yet the biblical references could be the result of a linguistic error made by scholars when they translated the Bible from Hebrew into Greek.
Nevertheless, the myth was eventually transformed into a Christian allegory. The legend became that the unicorn was so swift it could only be captured with the help of a maiden.
The maiden would sit in a forest and the unicorn, lured by her innocence and beauty, would place its head on her lap. This was a scene depicted in countless medieval paintings, sculptures and tapestries. In the so-called Holy Hunt, the maiden was seen representing the Virgin Mary, and the unicorn Christ.
Thus the myth fits well into Jordan’s tourist image. In recent years Jordan has been increasingly promoting its holy sites, like the settlement of John the Baptist on the River Jordan.
For those tourists it will hardly matter whether the oryx is really the original of a fabulous creature that was interpreted as an allegory of Christ. What counts is their beauty _ now on display in Wadi Rum.
 
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Anonymous

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I have also heard it could have been based on an extinct "woolly rhino" called Elasmotherium, which was related to modern rhinos but was built more like a bison, with very high forequarters and quite long legs, and weighed as much as an African elephant. It lived in the steppes of southern Russia, Mongolia and Manchuria (north China) and was probably hunted to extinction around the same time as the mammoth was further north. Some people claim it had a single vertical horn which was 5ft long, but I read another website which said it could not be proved it had a horn at all - the evidence being a large bony pad on its nose which looks like it could have supported a horn which would not have fossilised (rhino horns being made of a hair-like material rather than bone).

Also heard a slightly bizarre claim that unicorns were created by early animal experimentation, transplanting the horn buds of young cattle to the centre of their face as some kind of bizarre status symbol.
 

Melf

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unicorns

aren't there such things as bicorns? and do u have to be qualified to ride them?
 
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Anonymous

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What we need is a photo of one of those things in profile!
 
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Anonymous

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Originally quoted in a post by Evolved
The myth of the one-horned creature is wide-spread. The first known mention is from 2400 BC by the Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi. The unicorn he wrote about, however, had fish scales that shimmered in the colors of the rainbow.


It should be pointed out that the 'unicorn' in Chinese mythology has pretty definitively been identified as the giraffe. The first Ming Emperor received a (pair of?) giraffe(s) from Africa after the first voyage of the eunuch Zheng Ho's treasure fleet in the 1420s., and these were instantly recognized as 'unicorns' by the Imperial court. Given the extravagent descriptions of the beastie in Chinese mythology, don't ask me how they recognized it.
 

Bosbaba

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The Scimitar horned orxy in profile looks as if it has one horn. We have some near where I work so will try to snap a pic for you.
 
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Anonymous

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Where in Dublin are there Scimitar horned orxy (oryx?). The zoo is it?
 

Bosbaba

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Hi Scarlett,

Yup there are scimitar horned oryx in the Zoo - in the African Plains with the zebra and giraffe. Should not be too hard to get a good shot there.
 
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Phew, nice to have that sorted out - thought I might have missed them in Stephens Green or that they were concealed behind the remaining trees in O Connell street. Could be as elusive as unicorns, you know :blah:
 

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In Marco Polo's account of his travels, he discribes what he calls a unicorn, but from the discription he gives, it's obviously a rhino & he admits that it's nothing like the creature of fable.....
 

KeyserXSoze

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Unicorn myths seem to be in many countries, not just ancient Greece. Below is a list of some, but I know there are more.

Yale-South Indian - with two swivelling spiral horns to fend off evil spirit.
Kai-Tsi- (Sin You) Japanese lion with a horn.
Karg- Persian unicorn with fang and big horn.
Kere- Mongolian unicorn. (also Poh)
Kilin. Chinese unicorn.
Ki-rin- Japanese unicorn
Koresek- Persian unicorn.
Monoceros- Pliny wrote of Monoceros as ass with one horn of India.
Serou- Tibet.

If there are so many folk stories of these creatures over such wide area, maybe there is some truth in them? Or was it crazy antelope standing sideways that fooled everyone? I would love to know what you think!:)
 
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Anonymous

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I believe that some trader found a narwhale 'horn' (or some other suitably large horn). Perhpas there was a local legend about a magical horse with a large horn. Well, I'm sure he cna get alot more money if he seels a magic unicorn horn that a whale tooth, so that's what he says it is. Traders realize selling unicorn horns is big business, and do so. The story gets passed along trade routes until it's spread throughout much of the world.
 
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Anonymous

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Thread not dead

OK...but, why, if you found a narwhal tooth, would you say it came from a "horned horse"? I'd think you would have better luck selling it as a dragon horn or something. Obviously the unicorn legend predated the narwhal horns being traded into Europe by the vikings or whoever...

I would assume the unicorn legend was initially a third or 4th hand report of the rhinocerous... places with actual rhinos do not seem to have had the unicorn legend.
 
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Anonymous

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Re: Thread not dead

sninik said:
OK...but, why, if you found a narwhal tooth, would you say it came from a "horned horse"? I'd think you would have better luck selling it as a dragon horn or something. Obviously the unicorn legend predated the narwhal horns being traded into Europe by the vikings or whoever...
Well, perhaps it was more believable that you had managed to hunt a Unircorn than a Dragon? Maybe belief in Unicorns was more widespread? There' any number of reasons, and many mroe that completely destroy my previous post. However, isn't that the point of what we're doing here, finding new things?

I would assume the unicorn legend was initially a third or 4th hand report of the rhinocerous... places with actual rhinos do not seem to have had the unicorn legend.
Possible. Although, I do believe the Unicorn is referenced in the Bible, which would mean people automatically took it to be real.
 

Alexius4

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Marco Polo encountered a unicorn..and wrote that the notions folk had at home were all wrong. Unicorns, he said, were ugly, dark creatures, thick skinned, stumpy and bad tempered...

Umberto Eco examines this in a couple fo his books on semiotics - how someone modifies their model in the face of something strange rather than abandon it. Marco assimulated the rhino into the unicorn, rather than the unicorn into the rhino.
 
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Anonymous

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Eco and Borges

In the book of Imaginary Beings, Jorge Luis Borges (who Eco is indebted to) notes correctly that creatures such as the dragon and unicorn are much more believable than the chimera, say. And that in fact the chimera is pretty much the definition of an ungainly, unbelievable and ineffective monster.

I wonder why the dragon and unicorn are so much more believable? Certainly there are plenty of dinosaurs in the fossil record which could very well represent influences or even racial memories of dragons but there are not a lot of one-horned prehistoric unicorn analogues either. Nature appears to prefer multiple horns to one (narwhal tooth aside). Why?
 
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Anonymous

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Unicorns

Hi everyone,

I'm just curious on what other peoples beliefs are on the existence of Unicorns?
I personally believe in them. Why not?

People see them as a mystical animal, but what if we look without the magic that surrounds it?
What if we look at it like,....elephants or giraffs become extint, and then hundreds of years later theres no trace of them.
Imagine you'd never seen them, and then someone tryin to tell you this animal with a long trunk existed or an animal with a neck longer than its body!? They'd seem strange too. (Did that make any sense??? I'm no good at explaining myself correctly! :? )

The reason for my post is someone recently asked me if I thought they exsisted, I instant reaction was to say Yes. I firmly belive in them and to me theres no question about it. I actually shocked myself at my own reply. Not because I doubt what I believe but because I believe it so deeply I dont even question it.

Anyway, the main reason of my post to see what other peoples beliefs on Unicorns are???

Thanks for reading my post!

Vorz x :D
 

CygnusRex

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You might find this article interesting then:

Do you believe in unicorns?

Today the unicorn is legendary, or mythical. But this was not always so. At one time the unicorn existed--or, at least, was thought to exist.
As described in ancient scientific writings and depicted in painting and tapestry, the unicorn was a beautiful horse-like creature with a single long horn thought to have medicinal properties. Respected ancient scholars, such as Aristotle and Pliny, mention them existing in their day. But today unicorns have gone the way of fairies, elves, and trolls. Belief in such creatures was abandoned with the 18th century Enlightenment. Oddly enough, however, the unicorn remained a fixture in the Bible until the 19th century.

"How could that be?" one may well ask.

The Christians who wrote the New Testament did not use the Hebrew Old Testament, but rather its Greek translation, as sacred Scripture. In the Greek Old Testament eight passages describe an animal having only one horn (monokeros) as a translation for the Hebrew word re'em.

In the late fourth century, the Old Testament was translated into Latin (the Vulgate) using both the Greek and Hebrew. In some of the passages above the Vulgate translates the Hebrew re'em as "rhinoceros" and others as "unicorn." All Christians used the Vulgate until the 16th century, at which time Martin Luther translated the Bible into German — the first time the Bible was ever translated into a modern European language. Luther used only the Hebrew, for the Old Testament. Nevertheless, he still translated re'em as unicorn.

Later William Tyndale, using only the Hebrew, likewise translated re'em as unicorn, and so did the King James Version of 1611. In the 19th century, however, scholars decided that the Hebrew re'em did not really mean unicorn, but rather wild buffalo. Thus Christians from the fourth century well into the 19th found the unicorn in the Bible. The first English language edition to read "wild ox" for the Hebrew re'em was the American Standard Version of 1901. Today, "wild ox" has become the accepted English translation for re'em.

The Greek Orthodox Church, however, still uses the ancient Greek version of the Jewish Bible as their Holy Scripture. Where it differs from the Hebrew (and it often does), they believe the differences are due to divine inspiration. Unicorns, therefore, still exist in their Bible, as they existed for all Christians until the 19th/20th centuries.

So the question boils down to this: Did scholars change re'em to "wild ox" because they knew unicorns were mythical and hence should not/could not have been in the Bible? Or did they change because of new information about the Hebrew word?

Once I asked a college class if they believed unicorns existed. They replied that unicorns had never existed — such is the influence of the Enlightenment on Western culture. When I pointed out that unicorns were in the Bible until the 19th century (and still are in some Bibles), most students changed their minds — such is the influence of the Bible in modern life.

What do you think? Were Christians misled by their Bibles for 1,900 years, or do unicorns really exist?

Charles W. Hedrick is distinguished professor emeritus of religious studies at Southwest Missouri State University.


Source
 

kitsunegari

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Unicorns are just horny horses.... ;)
 
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My candidate is the Woolly Rhinoceros (Elasmotherium), which died out about the same time as the woolly mammoths...

This thing was about the size of a modern Indian elephant, proportionately longer-legged than a modern rhinoceros (reconstructions show it being built a bit more like a huge bison/buffalo), probably much faster than living rhinos, and had a single horn which some scientists reckon was 5ft long... :shock:

Amazingly, humans armed only with spears managed to hunt and occasionally eat these things... fits quite a bit better than horses or antelopes with the ancient idea of the unicorn as the strongest and toughest beast around...
 

ArthurASCII

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I don't think there's anything in the fossil records to support the existence of unicorns.
 

Reddeath0

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Extinct rhino species

I remember seeing a program about prehistoric animals. A portion of it discussed extinct rhino species. I remember seeing a skeletal reconstruction of an animal that was long legged and lightly framed. There was also ones that were built like hippos and the giant one that reach 18 feet in height.
 

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Re: Unicorns

Vorzheva said:
Anyway, the main reason of my post to see what other peoples beliefs on Unicorns are???

Narwhals, romantic dreams, and wishful thinking. :spinning
 

Leaferne

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Don't older depictions of unicorns show them more goat-like or deer-like than horse-like? (stringy tails, cloven hooves, etc.) I wonder when/how they became horses.
 

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Leaferne said:
Don't older depictions of unicorns show them more goat-like or deer-like than horse-like? (stringy tails, cloven hooves, etc.) I wonder when/how they became horses.

I always wondered (in a probably anachronistic way), whether the practice of jousting from horseback was inspired by animal jousting in nature and even tales of the unicorn.

Men and horses and lances...

Horses and horns, horns and horses... :lol:
 
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Anonymous

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With regards to the fossils, the only one discovered and examined was in Germany. It was discovered in a forest (cant remember for the life of me the name!) and in the 18th Century. However, the remains went missin (surprise, surprise) so it was thought to be a hoax. On the 'reports' though, the problem they found with the skeleton was half of its back-bones appeared to be missing!? :?

Don't older depictions of unicorns show them more goat-like or deer-like than horse-like? (stringy tails, cloven hooves, etc.) I wonder when/how they became horses.

This is true, in historical records they were smaller and did have cloven hooves. Quite unhorse like!
Maybe it is derived from how horses looked before they evolved, they started as dog size with toes, then evolved to cloved hooves and larger in size before evolving into the modern horse! ( I hope my memory serves me correctly!?)

Anyhoo, so quite interesting replies!
Swan - thank you for the article you posted! Interesting! ;)


My candidate is the Woolly Rhinoceros (Elasmotherium), which died out about the same time as the woolly mammoths...
Just out of interest, do you know which region these lived?

Thanks again! :) x
 
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Breezilla

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Leaferne said:
Don't older depictions of unicorns show them more goat-like or deer-like than horse-like? (stringy tails, cloven hooves, etc.) I wonder when/how they became horses.

I thought they were usually described as sort of a "composite" animal. (Head of a horse, body of a stag, goat hooves, lion's tail.)

Either way, I never knew why people sort of explained the unicorn myth away as sightings of a rhinocerous, as they're big and lumpy and not at all horse or goat-like. :?
 

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There are two possibilities with the rhino/unicorn thing. One is that the unicorn of popular myth is down to someone describing a rhinocerous very badly, then a few hundred years of artistic impressions.

The other is that when the rhinocerous was first seen by westerners, they connected it to an existing unicorn myth by virtue of its horn.

Or it could be something else.
 
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