[Before you answer, “Yes, of course they’re real–unicorns are mentioned in the Bible,” Strong’s Concordance gives us the original Hebrew word as “r’eyme,” literally translated as a kind of wild bull. Why Tyndale and the King James scholars translated this as “unicorn” is not known to me.]
I love cryptozoology, the most ephemeral of sciences. The cryptozoologists have to discover living animals presumed extinct, legendary, or even fictitious. And yet the moment they do discover something, it ceases to be a cryptozoological specimen and is immediately transferred to the realm of regular zoology.
So how about the unicorn? Did such a creature ever exist? People have been writing about unicorns, painting pictures of them, sewing them into tapestries, and grafting them into coats of arms for better than a thousand years. No one has been able to produce a graceful white horse with a long horn arising from its forehead. But in a pinch, would you accept a rhinoceros?
Not just any kind of rhino, but a prehistoric giant named Elasmotherium (see http://dinosaurs.wikia.com/wiki/elasmotherium ) which just might possibly have survived into historic times in Siberia and elsewhere, giving rise to the legend of the unicorn. Oh, please–who would see a unicorn in a big, fat, hulking, clumsy rhino? Elasmotherium had a single horn, five to six feet long, arising near the center of its forehead, rather than from the nose as in living rhinos. Paleontologists say it had long legs, “giving it a horse-like gait.” Hmm… So you slim it down a little, and you see it from a distance–it may not be safe to see it close-up–and what’ve you got?
The Jersey Devil, the mainland Thylacine, the Loch Ness Monster, Smart Growth–Oops, how did that get in there? Smart Growth has no basis in reality. When God creates things, they’re real. When we create things, they tend to be imaginary. The Lord knew what He was doing when He limited us to that.
All the same… Siberia’s a big place, no one’s seen all of it. Maybe, on few nameless square miles of steppe, bordering a nameless forest, seen by no man but a solitary hunter with a reputation as a liar and a drunk, there still survives a tiny population of Elasmotherium. And if Elasmotherium… why not a unicorn? Why not?