Geographers: Biobibliographical Studies, Volume 31

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It is actually not a horn, but an overgrown canine tooth that spirals counter-clockwise out of the left side of the animal's mouth. No one is sure what it is for. It could be used as an ice pick, helping narwhals travel through the icy Arctic waters, or an acoustic probe or even a lance to battle for mates. Tusks are more common among males, so many think it is a sexual characteristic, with the largest tusk indicating the healthiest male. In , scientists analysed this tooth in detail and discovered it has no enamel.

Instead, water flows through the tooth to nerve endings so the narwhal can sense differences in how warm and salty the sea is. Unicornfish Naso sp.

Unicorns can also be found in warm waters, in the shape of the colourful tropical tangs known commonly as unicornfish. Half of the fish in the genus Naso , from the Latin "nasus"for "nose", have unicorn-like knobs on their heads. This varies from a fleshy bump in the bignose unicornfish to an extended bony horn in the whitemargin unicornfish.

The horn develops with age, forcing the fish to change their diets. Young unicornfish feed on algae on the seabed, but adults of certain species switch to snacking on free-floating zooplankton or fish poo once their horn starts getting in the way. One of the largest species is the bluespine unicornfish , which can reach 60cm 2 ft in length with a 6cm 2. It is a pale olive colour with two bright blue plates bearing curved, knife-like spines where its tail meets its body.

These scalpel-sharp spines are for defense. Texas unicorn mantis Phyllovates chlorophaea. Several species share the name "unicorn mantis". It refers to a horn-like projection between their antennae. The horn is actually composed of two parts that grow side by side but do not fuse. Among the best known is the Texas unicorn mantis, which lives near the US border with Mexico and grows to 7. It belongs to the Mantidae family, which are called praying mantises because they fold their forelimbs as if in prayer.

The Texas unicorn mantis is an ambush hunter. Its body is a mottled grey-brown for camouflage, and its wings mimic bright green leaves to help it blend into the vegetation. It waits, completely motionless, using its impressive compound eyes to look for a meal. When an unwary moth or grasshopper passes by, the mantis grasps it in a deathly embrace using its forelegs, which close together like the blade of a Swiss army knife.

The mantis then slices its prey into bite-size pieces with its mandibles. Not exactly a fairy-tale ending. Okapi Okapia johnstoni. In heraldry, unicorns have a patchwork of features from other animals: the body of a white horse, a goat's cloven feet and beard, a lion's tail and a slender horn. In nature, one animal rivals this. It is horse-sized with a chocolate brown body, zebra-striped legs, large cow-like ears, a 15cm 6in pair of horns on the males, and a relatively long neck.

No wonder early explorers of the Congo region called the okapi the "African unicorn". The neck is the clue to the okapi's true heritage: it is the closest relative of the giraffe. While giraffes live on the plains where leafy meals are served at height, okapis live in the rainforest where food is easier to come by.

As a result, they are shorter than their lofty cousins and stand on average 1.

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Their camouflage stripes help them to blend in to the dappled shade of the forest. They are so well hidden, they remained undiscovered until the turn of the 20th century, long after most of Africa's other big mammals. Despite being a protected species since , the okapi is still hunted for bushmeat and threatened by habitat loss, so its future is uncertain. Goblin spiders Unicorn sp. Spiders of the genus Unicorn are named for a pointy protrusion between the eyes and jaws of the males, known as the clypeal horn.

You'll need a microscope to see it, though.

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These spiders are extremely small, reaching a maximum body length of just 3mm 0. They live in high, dry conditions m ,ft above sea level in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. Perhaps because they are so tiny, Unicorn spiders have only been known to science since the s and little is known about them. Female U. This suggests males of the species sacrifice their own genitalia as a kind of plug, to block others from mating with the female.


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Unicorn spiders suffer from a mythical personality disorder, as they belong to a family called Oonopidae, commonly known as goblin spiders. Over 1, different species of these tiny goblins have been described from around the world, some of which are said to shimmer like glitter.

Helmeted curassows Pauxi sp. Purists will argue that any unicorn worthy of the name should be able to fly, but they might not expect a unicorn bird. Helmeted curassows areturkey-sized black birds that live in the dense forests of South America. Each bird has a pale blue ornamental horn or "casque" on its forehead, which can grow to 6 cm 2. The northern helmeted curassow shown above lives in Colombia.

Narwhal | National Geographic

Its southern counterpart, which is technically known as P. However, in scientists found that the Peruvian birds had shorter horns and shorter songs, and bred at a different time of year. Deer can be mistaken for a horse. Have you ever thought of that? Many modern translations render the Hebrew word as "wild ox", and for good reasons, which you can read about in The Unicorn. Raymond C. US January 19th, Isn't there something else different about a mule? That they can't reproduce mules?

Keaton Halley January 19th, While mules from crossing a donkey and a horse are usually sterile, in some cases they are fertile. See Mule gives birth. ZA January 19th, The latest series of articles aluding to genetics is fascinating. It challenges the understanding of genetics by the lay person. As this article clearly demonstrates, what we learn from the ultimate Designer, we tend also to implement in an attempt of "improving" livestock.

Obviously we cannot improve livestock, similarly neither can natural selction to do so. However, there seem to be the odd chance that by re-combining "diverse" genetic information there may be a possibility to regain some of the original diversity of the "original" thus somewhat "improving" present commercial breeds. What remains a challenge to comprehend is the switching mechnism - it can only happen at three destinct events during development - 1 at fertilization, 2 miosis, 3 post-miosis - of which only the 1st seem logical miosis rather mutation, 3 no further alterations?

It seems somewhat inconceivable. Having the knowledge of the genome, would it be possible to recombine selective traits into a more environmentally adaptive breed by 'clever' selection from the already existing "menu" of specialized breeds, already "developed" by selecting for one trait only? Keaton Halley January 20th, I would not say that livestock cannot be "improved". That really depends on the definition of "improved", and we've shown that both artificial and natural selection can be 'beneficial' in certain respects.

Also, there are other points at which genetic modification can occur, if you think about the field of epigenetics, for example.


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David S. Didn't one of your recent articles say that not all horses have the same number of chromosomes?

See Resurrecting a 'prehistoric' horse. Errol B. AU January 19th, Not only does it help you spot logical flaws in the evolutionary arguments, but can also greatly benefit anyone involved in formal debating, high school or otherwise. Shane K. A unicorn would be really cool to see. Is someone going to argue for the possibility of a chimera or winged horses? A chickenosaurus is a cool idea since that would get rid of foxes in the hen house.

It wonder though, even if these animals could be brought into existence, should they be? Eugene Y. MY January 19th, Interesting indeed. In history there are cases in which men had intercourse with animals bestiality due to some religious duties. The Bible mentioned about them being committed by the Canaanites and whoever does this shall be death along with the animals.

Meet ten animals that look like real-life unicorns

Why they are doing this? Is it to release their sexual desire? Such 'offsprings' are highly unlikely possible. Furthermore, if this is done many times where are the evidence in archaeology? Can any future technology breaks this barrier?