London, England (WiredPRNews.com) — The magic and fantasy of childhood fairy tales with mythical creatures like dragons and unicorns may have finally come to life in a natural wildlife preserve in Italy.
A single-horned deer – nicknamed “Unicorn” – was born in captivity in the Tuscan town of Prato. The 1-year-old Roe Deer, one of a set of twins, resembles the creatures in fantasy stories although researchers believe that the single horn in the middle of the deer’s head is most likely a birth defect caused by trauma early in the animal’s life. “Unicorn’s” sibling has two horns.
Gilberto Tozzi, director of the Center of Natural Sciences in Prato, told The Associated Press, “This is fantasy becoming reality. The unicorn has always been a mythological animal.” Authorities believe that defects such as a single horn may have been the inspiration for the unicorn myth. The legend of the unicorn has been passed through history included in medieval texts to the current Harry Potter generation.
Tozzi continues, “This shows that even in past times, there could have been animals with this anomaly. It’s not like they dreamed it up.” Experts agree that although “Unicorn” has an unusual characteristic, the horn is not all that rare. The positioning of the horn in the center of the head is what makes the trait unusual.
Fulvio Fraticelli, scientific director of Rome’s zoo, stated, “Generally, the horn is on one side (of the head) rather than being at the center. This looks like a complex case.”