Millions of children all over the world have grown up with tales of unicorns, with their imaginations fed by the pretty creatures in movies like Legend (1986) and the Harry Potter franchise, not to mention My Little Pony. However, the real animals behind the unicorn myths are more likely to give kids nightmares than sweet dreams.
Stories about unicorns were around a long time before Hasbro churned out its first rainbow-colored plastic toy. The fantastical creatures are associated with Greek myths, however to the ancient Greeks they were not considered myths at all, but real live animals from India.
These early unicorns were not the graceful creatures we think of today. In fact, Greek historian Ctesias gave us the first account in the 5th century B.C., and describes them as wild asses with long horns. We hear of them again from Pliny the Elder (1st century A.D.), who says they had “the head of the stag, the feet of the elephant, and the tail of the boar, while the rest of the body is like that of the horse.”