Skip to main content

Unicorn

Well, we've finally made it to Animal #100! So let's start out this themed week with one of the most recognizable of all mythical creatures: The Unicorn. Variations of the Unicorn appear in the histories and mythologies of civilizations spanning from China to Mesopotamia to Greece. Images of horned horse-like creatures can be found in the cave paintings at Lascaux, written reports of Unicorns date back to at leas the 4th century BC. In short, for hundreds, even thousands of years, Unicorns have captured the interest and imaginations of people around the world.

"The Unicorn in Captivity"
Netherlands, ca. 1500
The Cloisters, New York
There are many variations of the Unicorn, but regardless of the name and culture, they all carry the characteristic horn. It is also common for them to possess cloven hooves, a lion's tail, and a goat-like beard. They carry a variety of traits and powers, depending on the culture. In China, the Qilin is a horned creature that brings good luck and prosperity. The Medieval Unicorn is a creature that represents purity and chastity, and which carries magical properties in its horn. Unicorns became symbols for both Christ and the nobility. References to a horned creature called Re-em are found in the Bible, and many of these passages later translated that word to Unicorn. Unicorns are found in paintings and tapestries, and many of these artworks depict the Unicorns with their heads resting the the laps of young maidens. This is a not so subtle nod to the belief that only a virgin could tame a Unicorn.

And what of the Narwhal? One legend holds that the Unicorns were too slow to make it on to Noah's Ark, and thus were left behind at the mercy of the sea... and they became Narwhals. While science demonstrates that Narwhals existed far, far before when the flood story would've occurred, Narwhal horns, which are long and spiraled, may have been inspiration for some of the medieval Unicorn legends. For hundreds of years royalty would pay exorbitant sums to acquire these horns, and they adorn thrones and crown jewels today. Other real-life creatures, including Rhinos, Oryx, and even Deer, may have also contributed to the Unicorn story.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bornean Orangutan

The Bornean Orangutan is one of two extant Orangutan species in the world. It is the third largest primate (after Gorillas) and is the largest primarily tree-dwelling animal in the world. Males are substantially larger than females, and average at around 165lbs. Bornean Orangutans are largely solitary. A handful might live within a small range but they will seldom interact with one another. Males and females only meet up to breed, which happens only once every several years. A young Orangutan will stay with it's mother for about five years, and the females tend to go about eight years between births. That is the longest interim period of any animal! Sadly, the Bornean Orangutans are in a lot of trouble. They need large forests in order to thrive, and deforestation and habitat degradation has left many homeless. They are also hunted for meat and for traditional medicines. Conservation areas are being established to help these guys in the wild, and it is believed that there are a

Four!

For anyone who was counting, yesterday was our birthday-- four years! Four years filled with animals from A to Z, more than 1,100 of them! I can't thank my readers enough, it's been wonderful! And in celebration of that milestone... I'm taking a break. Hopefully not forever, but for a little bit at least. In the mean time I plan on getting a new layout out, along with some updates to some of the older articles. I'll post updates here and on the Facebook page, I'm also brainstorming some new animal-related projects, so keep an eye out! Thanks again for four awesome years!

Binturong

The Binturong ( Arctictis binturong ) also has an equally awesome alternate common name, the Bearcat! However, it really isn't much of a bear OR a cat. While it is true that it is part of the Feliforma suborder, it is not a member of family Felidae. Binturongs are a part of their own family, Viverridae, which is shared with Civets, Linsangs, and Genets. There are six subspecies of Binturong, all of which have slight differences based upon location and habitat. Binturongs range in body size from 60-100cm in length, (not including their tail which has roughly the same length) and weigh between 20 and 30lbs. Binturongs are nocturnal animals native to the rain forests of South East Asia. The species range spans through several countries including China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They are tree dwelling mammals, and have fully prehensile tails that basically double their body length and can be used to cling to the trees or to grasp food. Binturongs are phe