Wrongly thought of as a mythological creature, (we will get into proof of existence later) the graceful unicorn once inhabited most of the northern hemisphere. Originally from India, the animals spread and adapted to many differing climates and landscapes. Over time they evolved into different subspecies.
Fantasy Creatures - Unicorns
Learn about the history of unicorns, the different subspecies, their habitats and why they died out.
Today four distinct subspecies are recognized.
Unicornus Cartazonos was found through out India, Arabia, North Africa and a fair portion of the Middle East.
Unicornus Sinoensis roamed the forests of Indonesia, China and Japan.
Unicornus Monokeros inhabited most European countries.
Unicornus Alba could be found in the deep forests of the British Isles.
Today's popular name Unicorn derives from the Latin Unus = One and Cornus = Horn.
Unicorns In The Bible
The most telling proof that these creatures once inhabited the earth is the fact that they are mentioned in the Bible. The following excerpts come from the Authorized King James version. (The later American Standard version substituted unicorn with wild ox)
* "God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn."--Numbers 23:22
* "God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn."--Numbers 24:8
* "His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth."--Deuteronomy 33:17
* "Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him? Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn?"--Job 39:9-12
* "Save me from the lion's mouth; for thou hast heard me from the horns of unicorns."--Psalms 22:21
* "He maketh them [the cedars of Lebanon] also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn."--Psalms 29:6
* "But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of the unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil."--Psalms 92:10
* "And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with their bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness."--Isaiah 34:7
Unlike horses and other beasts, the unicorn is generally a solitary animal. Members of the opposite sex come together for mating then go their separate ways again. Baby colts are born without their horns and will stay with their mother until it has grown and they can protect themselves.
Hunted To Extinction
The horn of the unicorn, known as alicorn, is believed to hold special powers against poisoning and evil. As a result they were hunted mercilessly, their horns turned into goblets, jewelry and medicines. As unicorn numbers dwindled, men started passing off fakes, as they were worth so much money. The most common was the spiral horn of the narwhal. This has lead to the common misconception that unicorn horns are spiraled.
There are rumors that a small number of unicorns still exist. It is possible that they have survived in remote inaccessible places away from man. Hopefully if they are found alive mankind will treat them better than he has in the past.