Their place in the human imagination is similar to that of dragons, griffins and sea-serpents. The present-day unicorn is portrayed as a magical, white stallion with a long, spiraled alicorn that protrudes from its forehead. Drawings of horses with a single straight horn first appear on the cave walls of Lascaux, France. Later, Aristotle retold stories about the horned wild ass of India, chronicled as a large white horse with a red head, blue eyes and a long black horn.
Some believe this mystifying lost species was hunted to extinction during prehistoric times but without a fossil record most scientist suspect the unicorn never existed. During the middle ages scholars were convinced the unicorn was a legitimate, real-life animal. It was thought to be a white beast the size of a donkey with a deer's head, the body of a horse, the tail of a lion, the beard of a goat and cloven hooves.
The one reliable account we do have comes from the famous world explorer, Marco Polo. He wrote about the unicorn that he'd been shown and described it like this:
"Scarcely smaller than elephants. They have the hair of a buffalo and feet like an elephant's. They have a single black horn in the middle of the forehead. they have a head like a wild boar's. They spend their time wallowing in mud and slime. They are very ugly brutes to look at."
Today, historians and naturalists agree. The identity of the mysterious creature described so matter-of-factly by Marco Polo was most definitely an Indian rhinoceros.