How to: Make a unicorn

At Popperfont, the great David Ng discusses the biological and/or evolutionary steps necessary to produce a theoretical real-life unicorn. I find it delightfully ironic that his first possible route involves something that, if I were to show you pictures of it*, you would probably request a unicorn chaser.

Basically, some kinds of tumors can produce little horn-like protrusions from the surface of the skin. (Sometimes these tumors are malignant, sometimes not.) If the tumor formed right in the middle of a horse's forehead ... et voila! You've got a unicorn.

This is not as unlikely as it sounds, by the way. The Mutter Museum has a wax model of the head of a French woman, Madame Dimanche, who had one of these tumor horns removed from the middle of her forehead when she was 82 years old. This happened sometime around the beginning of the 19th century. At the time of removal, the horn was 9.8 inches long.

And, yes, this would be roughly the same way that you get a jackalope.

Read David Ng's full discussion of several possible ways to produce a real-life unicorn

*Needless to say, all links shall be followed at the viewer's own risk. I am not responsible for lost appetites.

Image: Unicorn, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from robboudon's photostream


  1. :D

    Great follow up to your previous post (which seemed to summon some trolls). Maggie, you absolutely rock. 

  2. This happened to my cat, right on the front of his head!  The horn eventually went away on its own.  I don’t know if we took any pictures of it

  3. What luck!  The British Library recently announced the discovery of a long-lost medieval cookbook with, among other things, a recipe on how to cook a unicorn.   Beginning with the phrase “taketh one unicorne”, the unicorn recipe involves marinading the beast in cloves and garlic before being roasted on a griddle.   

    My mouth is watering just thinking about it…

    1.  Cmon now, the english were known for their incredible ability to roast things on the spit, somehow I doubt you’d be cooking something horse sized on a griddle..

  4. As I recall, old sideshows would raise a young goat and use rope and what not to jam its horns tightly together, and after a few years, bam, unicorn.

  5. That would certainly possibly give you a horse with a horn. It wouldn’t, however, give you a classical unicorn which differs significantly from a horse in having cloven hooves, often a beard, and a tufted tail.
    /moments of great pedantry

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