Unicorn Physiology
That unicorns actually do look like has been a matter of some dispute for several centuries now. Some old accounts give them white bodies and red heads, with a short, three colored horn. Others give them elephant's feet, a boar's tail and other equally improbable traits.
In the twenty-fifth fragment of Indica, Ctesias described the unicorn as follows: There are in India certain wild asses which are as large as horses, and larger. Their bodies are white, their heads dark red, and their eyes dark blue. They have a horn on the forehead which is about a foot and a half in length. The dust filed from this horn is administered in a potion as a protection against deadly drugs. The base of this horn, for some two hands' breadth above the brow, is pure white; the upper part is sharp and of a vivid crimson; and the remainder, or middle ortion, is black.Those who drink out of these horns, are not only protected from poisons, but also
seem to be healthier and to increase their longevity.
The problem in obtaining an accurate physical description is due to the scarcity of unicorns, their wariness of human observers, and the location of the unicorn studied. Unicorns while being related to a common ancestor, have evolved into different types depending on their location. (See Types Of Unicorns) All Unicorns have similarities. Oddly, while writers continued to disagree over what unicorns look like, artists kept coming back to the same basic idea: an animal much like a horse, but (in the better pictures) lighter and more graceful, with many
goat like qualities. In particular you should expect a unicorn to have a silky beard and hooves that are split, or cloven, like those of a goat. But even though we can describe a unicorn as having some of the traits of both these animals, in truth these creatures are far more magical than either a goat or horse could ever hope to be. All unicorns have a single horn on the top of their head.
The Karkadann is similar to an Arabian onyx, but with a single horn,
curved in a double spiral. It is believed to be extinct since the 1600s. The European Unicorn is recognized at once by the single coiled horn, which is present from birth. Sometimes confused in the field with the chamois (Ru pica pra) of the Italian Alps, and possibly with deer elsewhere in Europe Unicorns are generally much more shaggy around the chin and lower legs than any of these animals. The Oriental Unicorn is similar to the European species, but darker above and more spotted on the back; the horn is blunt tipped and undulating.
The Horn Of The Unicorn
The horn of a unicorn, like that of the narwhal, is invariably twisted in a clockwise or "dextral"
spiral when viewed from the tip Although narwhal tusks are thus outwardly similar to unicorn
horns, they are always hollow rather than solid, since they are derived from teeth Compared to the narwhal's tusk, the horn of the unicorn varies greatly in appearance, which seems to be related to differing rates of growth and twisting Sometimes
the horn almost resembles a strip of twisted paper, or it may be more circular than flat in cross-section and so look much like a corkscrew Some horns are very similar in form to the narwhal's tusk, with a series of "loops" lying side by side Still others have a raised ridge piraling over a central core Any of these types may be loosely or tightly coiled, resulting in further variations in appearance.
Likewise, the color of the horn has been variously described as white, golden, or black, and
sometimes as multicolored It has been suggested that these differences may simply be the result of
aging, the horn being white when fresh, yellowish or old ivory when an adult and black or multicolored when reaching old age, but these color variations were probably caused by the divergence of unicorns into many different types in different localities.
Likewise, the color of the horn has been variously described as white,
golden, or black, and sometimes as multicolored It has been suggested that these differences may simply be the result of aging, the horn being white when fresh, yellowish or old ivory when an adult and black or multicolored when reaching old age, but these color variations were probably caused by the divergence of unicorns into many different types in different localities. Likewise, the color of the horn has been variously described as white, golden, or black, and sometimes as multicolored It has been suggested that these differences may simply be the result of aging, the horn being white when fresh, yellowish or old ivory when an adult and black or multicolored when reaching old age, but these color variations were probably caused by the divergence of unicorns into many different types in different localities.
Unicorn age can be determined by the length of their teeth. Unicorns have no enemies except man (See Unicorns and Man and Unicorn Protection). They are loved and protected by all other animals for
their ability to purify polluted and poisoned water. Unicorns usually die of old age, but the animals almost never leave any easily recognizable traces.
Their horns are quickly consumed by other animals, and once the horn has disappeared, the
skeleton looks pretty much like that of any deer or antelope. However, the jaws can be
distinguished from those of deer by very close examination. In unicorns the lower mandible always has five molars on each side, while in deer there are always six per side. Unicorns also have a smoother transition between the skull and the bony base of the horn, since they never shed their
horns. In deer, on the other hand, there are always
definite narrow stalks, or pedicels, on the top of the skull, from which the antlers arise each year.