STL Science Center

STL Science Center

06 November 2014

Chinese Unicorns

Elasmotherium is repeatedly referred to as a basis for the unicorn myth and moreso in China than in any other place in the world. Due to this there have been entire books dedicated to explaining Chinese unicorn mythology that include hefty chapters on our rhinoceros friend Elasmotherium. These include Jeannie Thomas Parker's book called The Mythic Chinese Unicorn. There are times when the popular culture outlets for Elasmotherium are a little less scientific than even these books about mythology; believe it or not these myth discussions do tend to discuss the actual science behind the life histories of the animals. Regardless, the toys are not always entirely scientifically accurate, however, one of the most accurate is well represented on the internet. The model is from Papo and is reasonably well done, but in this discussion on The Dinosaur Toy Forum the author of the post repainted and enlarged the horn with sculpting material, making for a fairly accurate reconstruction of Elasmotherium. Perhaps the most telling popular culture references are in the multitude of illustrations that have been done in the various styles of illustrators and time periods in which they were drawn. Rather than discussing each style and period of time in which they were drawn, they are presented here in a gallery format:
E. sibiricum ©Dmitry Bogdanov, 2006
E. caucasicum  ©Dmitry Bogdanov, 2009
First published restoration (1878) of E. sibiricum, by Rashevsky
E. sibiricum  ©Philip72, 2002

E. sibiricum  ©Stanton F. Fink, 2011

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