Mystery Hoofed Mammal of prehistoric West -
Etymology: Unicorn is a misnomer, since t he
animal cl earl y has t wo horns.
Physical description: Reddish. Large spot s.
Square head. Two l ong, st raight horns. Large
bel l y, possibl y indicat ing a pregnancy. Short
Distribution: Grot t e de Lascaux, Dordogne
Depart ment , sout h-cent ral France.
Significant sighting: A 17,000-year-ol d Upper
Pal eol it hic paint ing of an unident ifiabl e animal
exist s in t he cave of Lascaux, above t he Vézère
River val l ey near Mont ignac, France. The cave,
wit h it s many depict ions of horses, bul l s, and
ot her animal s, was discovered in Sept ember
Present status: The cave was cl osed t o t ourist s
in 1963, but a part ial repl ica was opened nearby
Possible explanations: Most comment at ors
specul at e t hat t he 17,000-year-old paint ing
shows an imaginary animal , t hough t he ot her
paint ings in t he cave are nat ural ist ic depict ions
of real fauna. Ot hers have suggest ed t hat it
shows a hunt er or shaman dressed in skins t aken
from different animals.