Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Did unicorns really exist? .

Most people believe unicorns are a mythological creature that only existed in fairy tales.  While many of the myths and legends that surround them are made up, there is evidence that unicorns existed at one time.

While this article will not go into the authenticity and accuracy of the bible, it will be used to show unicorns were known at least until the 1600's.

There are several bible verses where unicorns are mentioned in the King James Bible that was translated in 1611.1 This shows the translators were familiar with unicorns otherwise they would have translated the word re'em (Hebrew: רְאֵם) as an animal they were familiar with instead of using a mythological creature.  The argument could be made that it was meant to be a mythological creature although you would have to take it out of context in all those passages.  In context, unicorn is being used in those verses as a known creature.  You would also need to ask why in the American Standard Bible that was translated in the early 1900's translated the same passages as wild ox - a known creature. 

The Jewish view of this animal is that it was a kosher animal (cloven hooves / chewed its cud) and existed only during the bible times.2

Unicorns were not found in either Greek or Roman mythology rather they were found in the writings of natural historians.2 In both ancient Greece and Rome, the historical writers wrote about unicorns as real creatures.3

Ancient Greek writers were convinced of the reality of the unicorn. The earliest description is from Ctesias, who described "wild asses, fleet of foot, having on the forhead a horn a cubit and a half in length, colored white, red and black; from th ehorn were made drinking cups which were a preventive of poisoning." Aristotle also mentioned two one-horned animals: the oryx, a kind of antelope; and the so-called "Indian ass."

In Roman times, Pliny the Elder's Natural History mentions the oryx and an Indian ox (which may have referred to the rhinoceros) as one-horned beasts. He called the Indian ass "a very ferocious beast, similar in the rest of its body to a horse, with the head of a deer, the feet of an elephant, the tail of a boar, a deep, bellowing voice, and a signle black horn, two cubits in length, standing out in the middle of its forehead." Pliny added that "it cannot be taken alive"

In  the late 1400's - early 1500's, there were a number of tapestries and artwork depicting unicorns as well as many Coat of Arms with unicorns on them.  Unicorns became very popular and the myths started surrounding them.  It could be they were becoming rare during this time and soon became extinct shortly after.

There are other one horned creatures that exist today.  Most people are familiar with the rhinoceros but there is also the narwhal whale.

One horned roe deer4

In Italy, a roe deer as found with one horn.  This is not uncommon but it is uncommon when the horn is in the center of the forehead.Could it be this deer is a genetic throwback to an entire herd of one horned unicorns?

I believe unicorns existed as real animals and once they were becoming rare, many myths and fantasies were attached to them.  It appears they were known to exist at least until the mid to late 1600's and were unknown by 1900.  Many animals become extinct so I do not understand why people do not believe that unicorns could not have existed in history with the evidence that is there.

I'll soon write about fire breathing dragons showing how they existed in history as well.

1. KJV bible Job 39:9-12, Psalms 22:21, Numbers 23:22, Numbers 24:8, Deuteronomy 33:17
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unicorn
3. http://www.allaboutunicorns.com/ancient-history.php
4. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25097986/

The Natural History of Unicorns

The Natural History of Unicorns

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