My 5-year-old wants to know why there are no unicorns in the world. Unicorns are her favourite imaginary creatures and she would very much like to have one as a pet!
I wondered whether there are any animals with one horn? Well, the narwhal is a small arctic whale with one long, spirally-twisted tusk. And there are some creatures with the word ‘unicorn’ in their name, like the unicorn fish and the unicorn beetle.
But these are not the right kind of unicorn – my daughter wants a horse-like creature with a long, tapering horn coming out of its forehead and large, feathered wings.
So, I thought about horses and wondered if they might have any practical use for a horn or wings…
Horses are large, heavy creatures from the same family as donkeys and zebras. They run fast to escape their predators (wolves, mountain lions and coyotes). They eat grass, plants, fruits and vegetables. And they are social animals that live in herds.
Having a long horn sticking out from its head could make grazing tricky. A very hungry horse might break off its horn so it could eat some lovely grass! And, whilst it’s possible that a horse might use its horn to fend off predators, since it can run fast, running away is probably a better option.
As for wings, a horse would need huge wings and enormous wing-muscles to be able to fly like a bird. Flying would be very tricky and exhausting and probably not worth the effort!
So, although I don’t know why there aren’t any unicorns (of the legendary sort), I think that they probably do not exist because horses don’t need horns or wings. What do you think?