Unicorn Facts
Unicorn Facts

36 Magical Unicorn Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published December 9, 2020
  • In medieval Europe, where food poisoning was common (both as hazard of poor domestic hygiene and as a tool of political assassination), unicorn horns were believed to neutralize poison.[5]
  • In 1577, explorer Martin Frobisher presented a narwhal tusk to Queen Elizabeth. Whether he knew it was a narwhal tusk or not, the tusk became known as the Horn of Windsor and was valued as a true unicorn horn.[5]
  • To test whether a horn was a true unicorn horn, King James once poisoned a servant—believing that unicorn horns neutralize poison. When the servant died, King James knew the horn was a fake.[5]
  • King James I introduced the unicorn into the British royal coat of arms in 1603, to symbolize his joint sovereignty over England and Scotland.[5]
  • In the 17th century, what people believed to be "powdered unicorn horn" was valued at well over its weight in gold. It was most likely made of narwhal tusks harvested off the coast of Greenland.[5]
  • Medieval Unicorn Fact
    Artists of the Middle Ages believed that only a virgin could capture a unicorn
  • In the Middle Ages, books called bestiaries listed the biological properties of unicorns. These books were also the first source to claim that virgins had power over unicorns.[5]
  • The earliest reference to unicorns is found in the works of Herodotus (484–425 BC). He describes the existence of an Indian "wild ass" with one horn. He was probably describing the Indian rhino.[5]
  • Greek historian Ctesias of Cnidas wrote the first description of a unicorn that sparked the unicorn craze. In his book Persica, unicorns are depicted as having a purple head, blue eyes, and a multicolored horn.[5]
  • Pliny the Elder coined the word "monoceros," which applied to both the unicorn and the Indian rhino.[5]
  • Adventurer Marco Polo believed that he had seen unicorns and wrote, "they are very ugly brutes to look at." He was probably describing rhinoceroses.[5]
  • The King James translation of the Old Testament refers to unicorns 9 times because of the mistranslation of the Hebrew word re'em, which is the Assyrian word rimu, which refers to an extinct species of wild ox.[5]
  • Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, issues unicorn quest permits. Unicorn hunters are advised to bring a pair of pinking shears and a flask of cognac.[6]
  • The word "unicorn" comes from the Latin word unicornis, meaning "one horn."[1]
  • If God had not created the Unicorn, man would have invented him, for he has a form and nature that must exist.

    - Welleran Poltarnees, A Book of Unicorns 

  • Because the ancient Greeks believed unicorns were real, the creatures are not included in Greek mythology but rather Greek natural history. The Greeks believed that unicorns lived in India, which they thought was a realm of mystery.[1]
  • An early depiction of what archaeologists thought was a unicorn was found in France's Lascaux Caves, dating as far back as 15,000 BC. However, archaeologists later found that it was actually two horns.[1]
  • On his way to conquer India, Genghis Khan said he had seen a unicorn, which he thought was a sign from his deceased father to turn back.[1]
  • A Pegasi is a unicorn with wings and is able to fly. A Pegasus is a winged horse but not a unicorn.[1]
  • A unicorn's horn is called an alicorn.[5]
  • According to legend, a unicorn holds the power to divine truth and will pierce a liar's heart with its horn.[1]
  • A baby unicorn is called a sparkle.[1]
  • The Indus Valley Civilization (3300 BC–1300 BC) used a unicorn emblem to seal clay tablets.[1]
  • Unicorn History
    A unicorn seal of Indus Valley (Royroydeb / Creative Commons)

  • A group of unicorns is called a blessing.[2]
  • The narwhal is sometimes called a sea unicorn. A narwhal's horn is a tooth that has grown into a long, spiral tusk.[2]
  • The Chinese unicorn has a short, curly horn.[2]
  • In Indian mythology, Risharinga, the son of a Hindu priest, lived deep in the woods and had a single horn growing from his forehead. During a drought, his tears of sadness saved the world.[2]
  • According to ancient Chinese mythology, a unicorn, or ki-lin, gave the emperor a package of symbols that taught the Chinese people their first written words.[2]
  • According to some myths, Adam named the unicorn first when he named all the animals. God then reached down and touched the unicorn's horn, a sign that it was blessed above all creatures.[2]
  • In some versions of the biblical story, unicorns refused to board Noah's Ark. When the earth flooded, the unicorns started to swim. However, birds landed on their backs and weighed them down, so the unicorns sank below the waves, never to be seen again.[2]
  • One of the most famous tapestries in the world is called "The Hunt of the Unicorn" and is filled with Christian beliefs and symbols.[2]
  • Various cultures have different iterations of unicorn myths. Some of the most famous are the Asian unicorn, Southern unicorn, and European unicorn.[3]
  • The Asian unicorn is said to gallop so smoothly that it doesn't crush even one blade of grass.[3]
  • In most cultural myths, unicorns have long, flowing tails. However, Asian unicorns have short tails.[3]
  • An Asian unicorn's coat can be scaly and either yellow, white, blue, red or black; some mythical Asian unicorns can even change colors.[3]
  • According to European myth, unicorns are fairly shy, but you could tell if one was close by the sweet smell of cinnamon in the air.[4]
  • In unicorn mythology, unicorns are born without a horn; it usually takes about a year for the horn to grow to full size.[4]
  • The Throne Chair of Denmark is made from "unicorn horns," which are most likely narwhal horns.[3]
  • Magical Unicorn Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Interesting Unicorn Infographic

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