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An “Asian unicorn?” What’s the real name of this rare creature that was recently captured?

When one of the world’s rarest mammals makes an appearance, a number of equally exotic words tend to follow. This wild, extraordinary creature hasn’t been photographed since 1999. However, reports emerged this week that a small village in Laos captured one. Sadly, it died several days later.

The “Asian unicornnickname isn’t exactly fitting since the animal is double horned. And, unlike the unicorn, the saola is no myth.

(The mythical unicorn is typically depicted with a single horn in the center of its forehead. The word comes from the Latin unus, which means “one,” and cornu, which means “horn.” The ancient Greeks thought that the fierce unicorn was a handful to capture, but that it would docilely lay its head in a virgin’s lap if presented with the opportunity.)

Saola means “spindle-horned.” It is also known as the Vu Quang ox, the Vu Quang bovid, and by its Latin name, Pseudoryx nghetinhensis. The incredibly reclusive beast is called saht-supahp by Hmong natives. The term comes from Lao and means “the polite animal.” Somewhere between the fantasy of the unicorn and the real-life sadness of the saola is the phenomenon of the chupacabra. Why does the alleged creature’s name mean “goat-sucker?” Find out here. The saola wasn’t even known to scientists until 1992 when the bovine was first spotted in a nature reserve in Vietnam. You can see a photo of one here.

It is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. It’s unknown how many are in existence; the number could be in the hundreds or even down to just a dozen. Only 11 have been recorded alive. The saola can be compared to cattle, nyala, kudu, and elands. It has similarities to an oryx, which typically have long, straight upright or swept-back horns.

An actual creature whose name may sound too odd to be real is the zedonk. Learn what the heck it is, here.

23 Comments

  1. moi -  February 29, 2012 - 1:04 pm

    @ caita:

    yup. pretty much!

    v. disappointed. silly gazelle thing. the hons aren’t even straight or forwards pointing and its not white!!!

    *sadness*

    Reply
    • RedLeafRenegade -  October 21, 2015 - 11:04 am

      Shouldn’t its name be “dualcorn” ?
      ‘Cause a UNIcorn has 1 horn
      A DUALcorn has 2 horns
      A TRIcorn is a Japanese mall dancer
      & an echidna’s -
      A QUADcorn is a shopping district in Chicago &
      A QUINcorn is harbor in Chile
      A SIXcorn is, um…
      A SEPTcorn is a type of Indian Icecream cone – with seven scoops!
      A OCTOcorn is another name for a squids beak
      A NINEcorn is the other version of Ninetales ;) ;) nudge nudge
      Finally
      A TENcorn is…
      is…
      is…
      This website :) :) :) :) ;) ;)
      (A ELEVEcorn is a geek – or is it a nerd? Check the blog of the name Geek vs Nerd to find out which is which)

      Reply
  2. Lolz -  January 22, 2012 - 6:51 pm

    :) :D

    Reply
  3. ArticleRanks -  February 15, 2011 - 7:59 pm

    Took me time to read all the comments, but I truly enjoyed the write-up. It proved to be Quite helpful to me and I’m positive to all the commenters here It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained I’m positive you had fun writing this post.

    Reply
  4. Monique -  February 9, 2011 - 7:26 pm

    I wandered onto this article from the one on Narwhals. I wanted to see a picture of this “Asian unicorn”, but discover it is an “Asian bihorn”. None the less, I enjoy your articles when I have time to read them.

    Reply
  5. caita -  February 9, 2011 - 6:39 pm

    THTS NOT A UNICORN! ITS A STINKIN GOAT/GAZELLE THING! I GOT EXCITED :( THT DOESNT LOOK ANYTHING LIKE A UNICORN. IF U CUT OF ONE OF ITS HORNS THEN GLUED IT TO A HORSE IT WOULD LOOK A TINY BIT LIKE A UNICORN.

    Reply
  6. awesome person -  February 9, 2011 - 5:29 pm

    Yo unicorns are awesome dont be dissing my unicorn. (I named the unicorn paul)

    Reply
  7. ann o. nymous -  February 9, 2011 - 5:26 pm

    o ya and theres a story that all the unicorns died cuz they missed the Ark cuz they were playing btu i think they just adapted and thats why we have narwhals. also they sprouted wings and flew (pegasus!)

    Reply
  8. ann o. nymous -  February 9, 2011 - 5:24 pm

    zommfg its a fricken GOAT! it has two horns like an antelope and a body like a GOAT! it isnt a unicorn unless it has only one horn in the middle of its head.

    btw unicorns are real. they eat clouds and poop rainbows. some peeps say they eat butterflies but thats a lie cuz unicorns are friends woth butterflies. TEE HEE

    Reply
  9. .?. -  February 9, 2011 - 5:17 pm

    its a Goat
    Why name it unicorn when it isnt one?!?!

    Reply
  10. fun -  February 9, 2011 - 12:34 pm

    that sucks unicorns rock dont u agree:(

    Reply
  11. earthling -  February 9, 2011 - 8:23 am

    there are unicorns in the king james bible..

    Reply
  12. Rain -  November 27, 2010 - 7:03 am

    It is not a goat. It is in the same family as cattle.

    Reply
  13. LT -  October 14, 2010 - 6:41 pm

    you have to admit it still looks cool. and also look up the italian unicorn it is even more like a unicorn

    Reply
  14. Angela Mercado -  October 14, 2010 - 6:25 pm

    to me there was never really a pegasus or a unicocrn

    Reply
  15. tom -  October 7, 2010 - 5:34 pm

    I looked at the pic and it looks just like a gazelle

    Reply
  16. abby -  October 2, 2010 - 1:29 pm

    THATS NOT A UNICORN!!!
    i was so excited to see a reel unicorn
    and when i looked at the pic

    ITS A GOAT- i mean realy its probaly just a rare seepcies or something!!
    wow im so dissapointed Ñ :c

    Reply
  17. Name? Doesn't matter -  September 24, 2010 - 6:26 am

    awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww there”s no unicorns……..so sad:(

    Reply
  18. sweetpea -  September 21, 2010 - 11:50 am

    THen it’s not really a unicorn :(

    Reply
  19. Guest -  September 20, 2010 - 10:18 am

    Good Read.

    Reply
  20. No name -  September 20, 2010 - 7:15 am

    What about the liger???? It’s real you know. Anyway this is a good blog.

    Reply
  21. wisdom -  September 19, 2010 - 4:39 pm

    Pegasus

    Reply

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