This African Animal May Be the Inspiration Behind the Unicorn

Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Gemsbok is one of the most spectacular and revered animals on the continent of Africa.

Oryx is a genus that encompasses four different antelope species including the Gemsbok, all of which reside in arid regions around Africa. The Gemsbok (Oryx gazella) is native specifically to South Africa, including the Kalahari Desert. This long-horned animal is also one of the most elusive species on the planet.

It is believed that the legend of the unicorn can be traced back to a traveler who spotted one of these animals with one broken horn on a trek through the African Savannah. In medieval times, their horns were even sold as unicorn horns. While these creatures may not actually be magical, they are extremely physically powerful.

Image: Nebrownii, Etosha/Wikimedia Commons

Gemsbok are usually a shade of tan or gray boasting unusual black patches on their front legs. Their muscular bodies are highlighted by a thick neck and strong shoulders. Male Gemsbok can exceed 500 pounds in weight and nearly four feet in height.

With spear-like horns known to pierce and kill any predator who dares to attack, the Oryx is never one to back down from a fight. These horns, which typically reach up to three feet in length, are also used to fight for dominance between male Oryx in herds, which often exceed 600 individual members.

Catch a glimpse of the most mysterious animal in Africa in the video below: