Sunday 2 December 2012

I tought I taw a unicown. I did! I did! I did tee a unicown! Doodness, dwacious, me!

From the Subversive Archaeologist's news ticker and London's Telegraph comes this too-good-to-be-true archaeological claim:
"North Korea 'archaeologists' report quite unbelievable discovery of unicorn lair"
This must surely be the archaeological find of the Common Era!

From the Telegraph November 30, 2012 (Photo: ALAMY)
According to the History Institute of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Academy of Social Sciences, an inscribed slab found in Pyongyang apparently alerted them to the singular importance of this site. The slab read, simply, "Unicorn Lair." This miraculous slab is believed to date to the Koryo Kingdom (918-1392), and in particular identifies the lair as belonging to King Tongmyong, whose temple still stands nearby in the North Korean city.
     This remarkable find finally puts the people's Korea on the geo-political-historical-evolutionary-democratic-anthropological map, squarely above the Republic of Korea, just like it has always been on maps! Indeed, for the better part of a century rumours have alluded to the illustrious Kim Dynasty's own unicorn stables, believed to be hidden cleverly in a vast underground paddock/stable complex in a tunnel straddling the 39th parallel, just inches (on the map) from Seoul, the capital of the ROK.
     Not only has this story underscored the perennial importance of the DPRK in the historiography of the Korean peninsula, but it also has direct implications on equid evolution. Unicorns, after all, are the only hoofed animal that romps around on a single hoof. It's long been thought that this was the genetic key to its having had just one horn. What most people don't know about the other equids [horses] is that, like Doberman pinchers and sheep, who have bits lopped off early in life for cosmetic purposes, horses too go through a similar process before they're allowed out of the maternity stall. Thus, rather than having had no horns analogous to that of the unicorn, for about the last fifty million years horses, too, have borne horns, one on either side of the head, just above the eyes.
     It is one of the sad realities of vertebrate taphonomy that nary a one of the standard version horse horn has ever been found palaeontologically. This has no doubt made more opaque the veil of misinformation and downright ignorance about true equid morphology.

An artist's rendering of what most of us will never see...the inferred appearance of an adult horse.
Again, the unicorn's anomalous hoof and horn morphology is unique in the equine world.
     Already a group of left-leaning American anthropological archaeologists are submitting funding proposals that will enable them to work with their North Korean colleagues in their sub-surface investigations of King Tongmyong's unicorn lair. We all await those results breathlessly. ;-)

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  1. Aside from the invaluable information shared above I thought it pertinent to your intention to change the name of the blog to The Subversive Anthropologist. Extant specimens of our species after all exhibit many more millions of idiocyncracies and idiotic aberrations than one could ever hope to find in that small subset that calls themselves archaeologists. I am surprised we havent as yet seen a scientific article on the tree of knowledge and the tree of eternal life. Or have we and I missed it?


  3. @Matt. Thanks for the link. I think it doesn't change much, 'ceptin' my horse-hockey that is.
    @Juan. ;-)


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