Many children have asked their parents that question after watching cartoons about a one-horned magical creature. For most of us, the word “unicorn” conjures the image of a talking horse with a majestic horn on the top of their head—surrounded by rainbows, of course. Depending on the cartoon, it might even fly.
Adults might brush off the idea that unicorns ever existed. But according to what we find in Scripture and the fossil record, a type of unicorn may have once roamed the earth. Not the mythical creature we normally envision, but a one-horned creature nonetheless.
Unicorns in the Bible
The Bible mentions unicorns in the same way it mentions non-mythological creatures like lambs, goats, donkeys, and peacocks (see Psalm 29:6, Numbers 23:22, and Isaiah 34:7). God even uses the unicorn as an example of strength when talking to Job (see Job 39:9-12).
Wait a second, you might think. I don’t remember ever seeing the word “unicorn” in the Bible!
It’s true that many Bible translations use different phrases like “wild ox” or “young calves” in the passages mentioned above. But if you look in the King James Version, you see something interesting. Here are a few examples:
“God brought them out of Egypt, he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn” (Numbers 23:22, KJV).
“Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns” (Psalm 22:21, KJV).
“But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of a unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil” (Psalm 92:10, KJV).
Translators may disagree on which phrase is correct, but remember, the word “unicorn” simply means “one horn.” So this creature in the Bible could very well have been a large, strong, one-horned beast.
A Possible Unicorn in the Fossil Record
We may not know for sure what the biblical unicorn was, but there are several possibilities. According to one recent article in a secular publication, the real unicorn may have been Elasmotherium sibiricum, also known as the “Siberian unicorn.” Answers in Genesis has previously written on this possibility.
E. sibiricum lived during the Ice Age. It was a member of the rhinoceros kind but was nearly twice the size of the rhinos we see today. That’s impressive considering the average rhino is 3.3 to 5 feet tall, 6.5 to 13 feet long, and a whopping 1,320 to 2,090 pounds!
Even more interesting, E. sibiricum has a shoulder hump. Researchers say this means the animal probably could run long distances, making them much more fearsome creatures than the slow-moving rhino of today.
Researchers haven’t actually found horns in E. sibiricum fossils, but the beast’s skull has a huge bony protuberance, which could have been the base for a horn. This is why they think it likely inspired the legends and myths about unicorns.
Evolutionists claim E. sibiricum went extinct around 35,000 years ago, but that timeline doesn’t line up with what we see in Scripture. Plus, researchers came up with this date based on carbon dating methods, which aren’t fool-proof by any means.
If you study ancient legends about mythological creatures, you’ll see that many are just exaggerated stories about creatures that used to roam the earth. Over and over, we find answers to our questions about the past in God’s Word.
Learn More About Unicorns
The Bible has a lot to say about unicorns—but they didn’t look the way modern cartoons depict them. Watch these fascinating videos to discover what the real biblical unicorn was like!