The Unicorn Thread

Yithian

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JamesWhitehead

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That stick of celery is almost certainly too young to be involved in an orgy! :eek:
 
A

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I hope i'm not showing my ignorance too much but are unicorns known or remembered in other cultures other than Western or European? If so, would this strengthen the case for them having been real at some point in the past?
 

Polterdog

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Fortunatopoe said:
I hope i'm not showing my ignorance too much but are unicorns known or remembered in other cultures other than Western or European? If so, would this strengthen the case for them having been real at some point in the past?

Yes, many regions of Asia have records of one-horned, unicorn-like, beasts. A quick google that includes "Asia" and "Unicorn" in some combination or another, should bring up the relevant information that you're asking for. Charles Gould's 1886 work, Mythical Monsters: Fact or Fiction, is also a good primer on the subject.

Polterdog.
 

dilligaf710

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2 headed cats, "mermaid" babies, parasitic human twins...
isn't there a chance, somewhere in recorded history, that a horse or close relative (or family of them i guess..) had a birth defect causing a horn to grow from its skull? and considering the fanciful imaginations of these lost generations, is it not possible that the story of a "magical horned beast" was blown out of proportion just a bit to include cloven hooves, lion's tails, camel's hump, green glowing eyes, etc etc?

did a horse ever exist in history that had a horn growing from its skull? possibly. could it grant wishes or whatever unicorns are supposed to do besides look pretty and carry the maiden off to safety? probably not.
 

Leaferne

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Actually, when you think about it, horses are unique among large, hoofed mammals in *not* having horns or antlers.
 

Polterdog

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dilligaf said:
isn't there a chance, somewhere in recorded history, that a horse or close relative (or family of them i guess..) had a birth defect causing a horn to grow from its skull?

Actually, apparently it is a fairly easy task to create a man-made unicorn by transplanting and then "re-seeding" the horn-buds of, say, a cow, so that a single horn will sprout from the centre of the animal's forehead.

In the 1930s, Dr. Franklin Dove produced just such a "unicorn cow" by the aformentioned procedure in an effort to prove that it was possible for horns to grow in the center of a forehead that had a divided frontal lobe. The cow, apparently, used the "alicorn" (the two horn buds had grown into a single horn) very differently than what it normally would have done had it had its normal two lateral horns -- it instinctively knew to charge, instead of goring, which, of course, best utilized its weight for attacking.

There's also "Lancelot" the "unicorn goat" that was once (is?) an attraction of The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circuses which, I believe, was one of those natural birth defects (sports) that you suggested.

But as for the classic equine unicorn...is it possible to seed a horse with the horn of a cow or, even better, narwhal horn and produce the much romanticized unicorn form? You know, it's funny, I'm not sure that I've ever come across any reports of a mad scientist, throughout the annals of history, who dared to try it (and, apparently, this kind of high-tech husbandry was known from ancient times so it wasn't for lack of knowledge) and, whether it is genetically possible or not, that in itself seems just a little strange; what with the human condition being what it is and the kind of collective comfort that we would find in producing a real, living and breathing, unicorn.

Plus, as dilligaf hinted at, if humans and rabbits can occassionally sport horns, why not a horse at some point?

At any rate, all that being said, there's a neat, if slightly religiocentric, book written by Larry Brian Radka entitled The Historical Evidence for Unicorns, that documents evidence that the unicorn was actually a distinct species of mule or ass.

Make of that what you will.

Polterdog.
 

rynner2

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Single-horned 'Unicorn' deer found in Italy
By MARTA FALCONI – 13 hours ago

ROME (AP) — A deer with a single horn in the center of its head — much like the fabled, mythical unicorn — has been spotted in a nature preserve in Italy, park officials said Wednesday.

"This is fantasy becoming reality," Gilberto Tozzi, director of the Center of Natural Sciences in Prato, told The Associated Press. "The unicorn has always been a mythological animal."

The 1-year-old Roe Deer — nicknamed "Unicorn" — was born in captivity in the research center's park in the Tuscan town of Prato, near Florence, Tozzi said.

He is believed to have been born with a genetic flaw; his twin has two horns.

Calling it the first time he has seen such a case, Tozzi said such anomalies among deer may have inspired the myth of the unicorn.

The unicorn, a horse-like creature with magical healing powers, has appeared in legends and stories throughout history, from ancient and medieval texts to the adventures of Harry Potter.

"This shows that even in past times, there could have been animals with this anomaly," he said by telephone. "It's not like they dreamed it up."

Single-horned deer are rare but not unheard of — but even more unusual is the central positioning of the horn, experts said.

"Generally, the horn is on one side (of the head) rather than being at the center. This looks like a complex case," said Fulvio Fraticelli, scientific director of Rome's zoo. He said the position of the horn could also be the result of a trauma early in the animal's life.

Other mammals are believed to contribute to the myth of the unicorn, including the narwhal, a whale with a long, spiraling tusk.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gg9q ... AD9181I381

Link with bigger photo:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldne ... -head.html
 

LaurenChurchill

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Horses have absolutely been born with horns before. A friend of my best friend has/had a horse with two horns similar to the double rhino horns, but kind of joined to each other. She kept it in the same paddock as Kim's horses and it was the sweetest thing. Really gentle. Not white tho unfortunately :(

I've also seen a few articles on horses born with horns. Don't think they're very unicorny ones though, all the photos I've seen (and Keelin too) have had really stubby ones, like bambi horns.

My vote is for bad rhino descriptions anyway, but I think the dragon myth might have a basis in reality, some kind of big lizard along the goanna lines or something.
 

stonedog2

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Goats have horns which can fuse.

Kath
 

LaurenChurchill

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I killed this thread didn't I?

Meh.

I was thinking today about how the difference between rhinos and unicorns make it sound so unbelieveable for someone to mistake one for another. My own thought is this: That people describing things they aren't familiar with, describe it in terms and ways that they ARE familiar with.
Maybe someone coming back from Africa goes to his neighbours saying

"OMG You gotta see this thing they have over there. It's got a head a bit like a horse. You know, with the leaf-shaped ears set a little way back behind its eyes and a long, strong looking nose and nostrils that are so big they almost don't fit on the head. A
nd then it has this really strong looking body with big hooves, except they're divided in two - like a goat, not a horse.
And it's tail is long and thin and hard, and has a brush at the end like a lion's does.
And on its face is this huge horn right in the middle
And OH MY GOD are they hard to tame! I saw a few of them and they're just so wild! It'd take a beautiful virgin to tame one of those things, let me tell you!

And a legend is begun... :)
 

chockfullahate

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have read somewhere that the unicorn is a reference to lost knowledge of the "third eye"
 

cassie45

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behold the unicorn

I heard a theory that unicorns were based on accounts of the Arabian oryx
 

rynner2

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Unicorn protesters make their point
Unicorns have found themselves in the middle of a battle between a US website and the pork industry, writes Geoffrey Lean.
By Geoffrey Lean
Published: 6:20PM BST 09 Jul 2010

Unicorns, as online retailer ThinkGeek puts it, "aren't something that you run into every day". But when the US website recently tried to exploit their rarity by putting up a spoof ad for cans of their meat, the pork industry resorted to lawyers to see off the mythical competition.

The ad revealed that after busy lives "frolicking all over the world, pooping rainbows and marshmallows", unicorns end up in County Meath, where "the Sisters of Radiant Farms have dedicated their lives to nursing these elegant creatures through their final days", massaging their coats with Guinness then butchering the corpses to create "the new white meat". :D

The pork people saw red, since for 23 years they have marketed their product as "the other white meat". They banged off a12-page legal letter to the site, which calls itself "the premier retailer for the global geek community", to make it "cease and desist". :shock: ThinkGeek promptly apologised for "misguiding the American people regarding the differences between the pig and the unicorn".

Accused of harbouring "humourless swine", the pork barons explained that they did "understand" that "unicorns don't exist", but had to protect their trademark. Indeed, in 2007 a similar letter was sent to a breastfeeding campaigner who sold T-shirts emblazoned with "The other white milk" (as well as "That's my baby's lunch you're staring at").

Strangely, however, the industry has just announced that it will be phasing the slogan out anyway, on the grounds that it's become ineffective. Which raises the question: has its reaction perhaps been a bit hamfisted? 8)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthc ... point.html
 

Anome

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It was one of ThinkGeek's April Fools Day promotions. Oddly enough, the one that got the most attention at the time was the iPad Arcade Cabinet, which a number of people thought was real and reported as such. (Not the first time that this has happened. It's great publicity for them, and a couple of times it has resulted in the product actually being manufactured - most notably the 8-bit Tie, and the Taun-Taun Sleeping Bag.)

So this has been doubly good for ThinkGeek, since they got a second round of publicity three months later thanks to the Pork Marketing Board, who seem unable to take a joke.
 

PeniG

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Trademark lawyers are professionally obliged to have no sense of humor on the job, much like security personnel, only with less justification.

It's possible, under US law, to lose trademark protection if you don't vigorously protect your trademark; this is why Aspirin is a trademark in Canada and a generic uncapitalized word for acetemenephin painkillers in the US, where the owner of the term didn't police its use. But it can be detrimental to the brand image if they pursue obvious harmless fun uses like this.

Several years ago Mattel did itself a huge disservice by going after collectors and enthusiasts who used Barbie's image on their websites without explicit permission. (See the kind of thing I mean here: http://www.dolldoctor.20m.com/.) Instead of contacting the site owners with educational letters about how to do this legally, they started sending out cease-and-desist orders and even threatening lawsuits! So instead of educating and enlisting hordes of eager fans, they offended and alienated them. This was all done routinely, on a kind of bureaucratic automatic, and Mattel executives with a better sense of where their money comes from stepped in and did damage control once they became aware of the situation, with the result that the Doll Doctor is still using the same photos with all the proper attributions and "Barbie's Bad Hair Day" has turned into a meme; but it was touch and go for awhile and some collectors were turned right off and turned to other dolls.

This is probably something similar, in that the people in charge of aggressively protecting the trademark had no latitude for judgment and sent out a boilerplate letter when a more nuanced response would have kept the body from looking idiotic.
 

ramonmercado

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Well, sort of.

It looks like it just walked out of a fairy tale, but this deer with a single, unicorn-like antler is the real thing.
»
Shot by a hunter in Celje, Slovenia (map), in August, the roe deer has an extremely rare type of antler deformity, likely caused by an injury early in the antlers' development. Such injuries are common in deer and often lead to antler abnormalities, including bizarrely shaped racks.

The abnormal antler on this Slovenian "unicorn" is so unusual that scientist Boštjan Pokorny, who verified the animal's authenticity, said he's never seen anything like it in nature. ...

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... e-animals/
 

rynner2

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Extinct 'Siberian unicorn' may have lived alongside humans, fossil suggests
Scientists said that creature, which looked more like a rhino than a horse, went extinct 29,000 years ago instead of 350,000 after finding skull in Kazakhstan
Ellen Brait in New York
Tuesday 29 March 2016 18.37 BST

An extinct creature sometimes described as a “Siberian unicorn” roamed the Earth for much longer than scientists previously thought, and may have lived alongside humans, according to a study in the American Journal of Applied Science.

Scientists believed Elasmotherium sibiricum went extinct 350,000 years ago. But the discovery of a skull in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan provides evidence that they only died out about 29,000 years ago.

Unfortunately, despite its sizable horn, the “Siberian unicorn” looked more like a rhinoceros than the mythical creature its nickname refers to. It was about 6 feet tall, 15 feet long, and weighed about 9,000 pounds, making it more comparable to a woolly mammoth than a horse.

The researchers are now studying how this creature was able to survive so much longer than many of its kind.
“Most likely, the south of Western Siberia was a refúgium [refuge], where this rhino persevered the longest in comparison with the rest of its range,” Andrei Shpanski, a paleontologist at Tomsk State University, told Phys.org. “There is another possibility that it could migrate and dwell for a while in the more southern areas.”

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/mar/29/siberian-unicorn-extinct-humans-fossil-kazakhstan
 

Yithian

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As above.

Recent reconstruction:

n119b97dff801.jpg


First artistic depiction of Elasmotherium sibiricum, in 1878

56f9f8fb1500002a000b3565.jpeg


Brief Article on the species:

The animals are believed to have stood about six feet tall and 15 feet long, and weighed around four tons. Their horns likely were about seven feet long.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/unicorns-lived-in-kazakhstan_us_56f99441e4b0a372181aaaa3

Current belief is that they were living 29,000 years ago--easily overlapping with modern humans.

Are we looking at recreations of the origin of the unicorn myths?
 

EnolaGaia

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... Are we looking at recreations of the origin of the unicorn myths?

The circumstantial evidence is trending in that direction, but ...

There's no physical proof Elasmotherium sported the sort of single spike-ish horn one sees in all the illustrations.

There's no doubt about the large basal structure on its upper skull, and there's no question some probably massive structure protruded from this base. However, no physical evidence (e.g., fossil) of the presumed horn is known to exist.

On the other hand ...

Elasmotherium had longer, and better articulated, legs than most rhinoceros-style megafauna. Some paleontologists have claimed this species probably exhibited a more horse-like running / galloping motion than other such beasts.

The newly-estimated timeframe of circa 29,000 years BP dramatically reduces, but doesn't necessarily close, the gap between living Elasmotherium specimens and the cave art (at Rouffignac) long presumed to portray one of them.
 

oldrover

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As above.

Recent reconstruction:

View attachment 7882

First artistic depiction of Elasmotherium sibiricum, in 1878

View attachment 7883

Brief Article on the species:

The animals are believed to have stood about six feet tall and 15 feet long, and weighed around four tons. Their horns likely were about seven feet long.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/unicorns-lived-in-kazakhstan_us_56f99441e4b0a372181aaaa3

Current belief is that they were living 29,000 years ago--easily overlapping with modern humans.

Are we looking at recreations of the origin of the unicorn myths?

I'm going to say no, the time span is too great. I'm certainly no expert on Australian Aboriginals (and Mungoman can correct me here) but as far as I know, there's no oral record of animals which we know existed alongside them only until around about 2.5 kya. Plus, whose to say there's any continuity between the population that would have encountered these animals, and the peoples who first described the unicorn. But going by the distribution, it sounds as though the unicorn appears quite early in our minds.

But who knows.

In any case I remember Amyasleigh here telling me years ago about the writings of Ahmad ibn Fadlan, who I think mentions something like Elasmotherium existing in southern Russia. If you google the phrase below the results will take you a copy of what he said.


“Near this river (the Volga) is a vast wilderness wherein they say is an animal that is less than a camel and more like a bull in size.
 

EnolaGaia

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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.

This 2001 post in the Greek Myths and Todays Legends thread mentions something I don't see in this thread ...

Numbers 23:22 "God bought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn"
Job 39:9 "Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?"
The Hebrew word for Unicorn is re'em = wild ox. In Assyrian, rumu. With the first Greek translation of the Bible, they took the name "monokeros" - one horn - from the depiction of the wild ox on Assyrian bas-reliefs. The wild ox was always shown in profile, hence it showed only one horn. And hence, from humble beginnings, the legend of the Unicorn is born. During the same time, the Wild Ox population was decimated because of human expansion.

https://forums.forteana.org/index.p...d-todays-legends-and-monsters.1060/post-15041
 

EnolaGaia

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Kondoru

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Im a bit disturbed by the prevalence of Unicorn imagery these days, particularly on virgins...

(Okay, members of society we hope are virgins...)

Given there proclivity for shall we say, dealing with virgins.

(When you read the things in myth, you seriously wonder about some folks sexual fantasies...)

The Worshipful Company of Horners has a unicorn horn; from a narwhal.

(retired as their livery some years back as being too fragile. They have a resin one now)
 
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