The Bones of Unicorn Cave Are From Everything But Magic Horses

Illustration for article titled The Bones of Unicorn Cave Are From Everything But Magic Horses

The largest cave in Germany's Harz Mountains, known as Unicorn Cave, was discovered in medieval times when the thinking was that the large deposits of strange bones could only belong the mythical horned horse.

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The first recorded discovery of the cave occurred in 1541 when it was noted as a source of unicorn artifacts, thus giving the cavern its name. While the fantastically named, 610-meter cave was filled with bones, they were sadly not of the mythical variety. Modern studies have shown that the bones in the cave are actually from a number of prehistoric animals who took shelter in the large cave.

From mammoths to ancient cave bears to ancient lions, the remains of over 70 species of beast has been identified from the cave, not one of them belonging to a mystery equine. Excavation has even revealed tools that show prehistoric man also inhabited a portion of the cave sometime in the past.

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However all of this buzzkilling science has not stopped visitors from searching the cave floor for a horse horn that could prove that magic still exists.

Image Credits: tracy the astonishing


Written by Eric Grundhauser, this is a slightly modified version of an article that originally ran on Atlas Obscura, the leading guide to the wondrous and curious places across the earth. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

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