Press "Enter" to skip to content

Tag: Conrad Gessner

Monoceros: What Conrad Gessner’s discussion of the unicorn tells us about natural history in Renaissance Europe

A woodcut of a unicorn from Gessner’s Icones animalium, p. 62. Gessner described this image as “the sort which is generally depicted by artists today” without committing himself to its accuracy.

This post was written by James Truitt, intern in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History.

In August, the National Museum of Natural History opened Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend, an exhibition about the tusked whale monodon monoceros sometimes called the unicorn of the sea. Most of the exhibit focuses on narwhal biology, arctic ecology, and Inuit culture, but one section breaks from the polar theme to explore another legacy of the narwhal—the mythical unicorn.