Bartholomeus Anglicus, or Bartholomew the Englishman in English, was an early 13th-century scholastic scholar of Paris, and a Franciscan monk. He was the author of the compendium De proprietatibus rerum or “On the Properties of Things”. The work was intended for the use of students and the general public. Compiled in 1240, it was a sort of pre-encyclopedia and one of the most popular books in medieval times. This petite unicorn can be seen within its pages.
In 1933 or ’34, Dr W. Franklin Dove took a day-old male Ayrshire calf, surgically removed his horn buds, trimmed them to fit together and replanted them in the centre of the calf’s forehead. As the young bull grew, the buds fused and produced a single foot long horn, straight as an arrow and highly useful in uprooting fences as well as confronting rival bulls.
The Unicorn Bull became the leader of his herd,rarely challenged by other males, not surprisingly. When bulls charge each other the main aim, as with most horned animals, is to bash skulls and push and shove until someone can take no more. Charging towards an enemy who has a spike aimed right between your eyes is not exactly a smart game to play.
Secure in his strength and position, the bull became unusually placid and mild-mannered, which are traits attributed to the Unicorn, oddly enough.
Monoceros is a faint constellation on the celestial equator. Its name is Greek for unicorn. The constellation has some interesting features to observe with the aid of a small telescope:
V838 Monocerotis, a variable red supergiant star, had an outburst starting on January 6, 2002; in February of that year, its brightness increased by a factor of 10,000 in one day. After the outburst was over, the Hubble Space Telescope was able to observe a light echo, which illuminated the dust surrounding the star.
Monoceros also contains Plaskett’s Star, which is a massive binary system whose combined mass is estimated to be that of almost 100 Suns put together.
It also contains two super-Earth exoplanets in one planetary system: COROT-7b and COROT-7c.
Sea Unicorn,© 2015 Liz Vitale
Drawn directly from another old engraving (non-colored),this half-fish, half unicorn creature seems to be crawling over the surface of the water with a strange set of armlike appendages in the front. I took great liberties in coloring it, thinking it would be neat if a unicorn of the sea would be not white, but a kelpy green.
Pinto Unicorns,© 2015 Liz Vitale
I’ve always wishy-washed back and forth on unicorns as simply “horses with a horn”. I have seen beautiful treatments of them as a distinct and separate species with deer and goatlike characteristics, but generally, in pop culture images, they are simply “horse with a horn”. So I like to think of them as a separate species in which some of the varieties share traits with equines, and some traits with other hoofed animals. It works for me. 🙂
Leaning toward the “equine” side, one of my all-time favorite images involving a unicorn is this one, which I think is a produce label.
Onager Aldrovandi, © 2015 Liz Vitale
In John Jonston’s Historia Naturalis ,published in 1657, there exists many beautiful (and sometimes horrifying) engravings of creatures both real and imaginary; however, the animals we know as fanciful today we
re treated then with the same reverence as if they were completely true-to-life, since during this era many beasts such as dragons and unicorns were considered quite real and worthy of study.
Several unicorns are mentioned, and the animal I drew above is listed and pictured with them.